LOGO
  • ,,

    KaMauri Harrison, 9, takes fight to stay in school to the state legislature

    Sitting on Governor John Bel Edwards desk is a historic act that creates school policies for virtual learning in Louisiana and allows students who have been punished by their schools to appeal their school’s decision. The Act, which was written State Rep. Troy Romero’s (R-District 57) and co-authored by 70 legislators, earned unprecedented unanimous support (97-0) across the House and Senate during this second extraordinary session. And it all began with the parents and supporters of KaMauri Harrison fighting to appeal an elementary school’s decision to expel him.

    KaMauri’s BB Gun

    When the Nyron Harrison and Thelma Williams of Harvey, La., made the decision to keep their five children in virtual learning throughout the coronavirus pandemic, they did not realize that they were opening their home to the review of the Jefferson Parish School System.

    Rep. Troy Romero

    Rep. Troy Romero

    Nine-year-old Ka’Mauri Harrison was expelled  for having a BB gun visible in his bedroom while he attended virtual classes. According to his teacher’s report, Harrison was completing a test during a virtual class when his younger brother tripped over the toy near him. He picked it up and placed it near his laptop and the teacher saw the barrel of the toy gun. She reported it to school officials who suspended the boy and recommended him for expulsion. Louisiana has a zero tolerance law for weapons on school grounds and the Jefferson Parish School System upholds a “Weapons on Campus” policy.

    At his school hearing, an official declined to expel Harrison but still upheld his six-day suspension. Harrison was upset.

    “They are treating it as if he brought a weapon to school,” said his father.

    His parents said the school violated their privacy rights and denied them due process. They are suing the school system and is seeking damages for “mental pain, suffering, anguish and embarrassment, humiliation and loss of self-esteem, future counseling and tutoring and lost income,” according to the suit.

    The incident has garnered national and international attention from mainstream media, gun association magazines, legal blogs, and Black media.

    KaMauri’s Supporters

    dr-walter-kimbrough-dillard-univ-400

    Walter Kimbrough, Ph.D

    On the day the story was published in the New Orleans Advocate newspaper, Dillard University president Walter Kimbrough PhD penned a letter to the school district and media. He questioned if the school system had adequate policies to address incidents like this to determine where school functions or school grounds end during virtual learning. He admonished the Jefferson Parish public schools superintendent to revoke the punishment, update school policies to reflect changes to virtual environments, and apologize to Harris. School Board member Simeon Dickerson said the punishment didn’t fit the offense and also urged the superintendent to reconsider. As of today, Superintendent James Gray has not reconsidered.

    Kimbrough often speaks against the over criminalization of Black boys so it is consistent of this HBCU leader to spot this situation and proactively attempt to prevent a long-term effect on the fourth grader and his family.

    Attorney General Jeff Landry launched an investigation into the situation on the same day of the story. “I have begun investigating this matter and plan to take action in defense of this young man and his family and all families who could suffer the same invasion of their homes and constitutional rights…“It is ludicrous for this All-American kid to be punished for taking responsible actions,” wrote Landry.

    Rep. Jason Hughes

    Rep. Jason Hughes

    Likewise, The ACLU of Louisiana also condemned the school system’s decision.

    State Rep Jason Hughes (D-New Orleans) shared Harrison’s story on Facebook and posted, “During the 2020 Regular Legislative Session, I filed a bill that would completely overhaul Louisiana’s School Discipline Code….The bottom line is we suspend and expel far too many kids in the State of Louisiana, including students in Pre-K and Kindergarten. This is not accomplishing anything meaningful. Rather, these actions are causing our kids to fall further behind and placing them on a destructive path, rather than a path to prosperity. Louisiana MUST do better! I invite any parents, teachers, students, and members of the public to join me in addressing this problem and working toward a meaningful solution!” The Harrison family has done just that.

    KaMauri’s Victory

    On Oct. 6, a judge signed a temporary restraining order enjoining the Jefferson Parish School System from performing a social work assessment on Harrison or any other acts of retaliation, his family stated on their GoFundMe page. The Harrison Family said they hope raise enough money for Ka’Mauri’s legal defense to appeal the school’s decision, clear his record of an “on-campus weapons violation, and support the family as needed.

    Because of an over-reactive school expulsion, the Harrison family has become active advocates for fair education policies even in the midst of their own financial challenges.  They have been caught in a whirlwind of rules and policies, even while KaMauri returns to virtual instruction.

    Chelsea

    Chelsea Cusimano

    With the help of New Orleans attorney Chelsea Berner Cusimano, the Harrison family went to the State Legislature on October 7 to encourage the Louisiana House Education Committee to pass House Bill 83 and review student disciplinary laws and policies especially considering the new virtual learning environment. Representatives applauded Harrison before unanimously voting to advance the bill which they renamed the “The Ka’Mauri Harrison Act.”

    In an open letter to legislators, the Jefferson Parish School superintendent and board members urged legislators to reject the bill stating that the bill will have serious and wide-reaching implications for school districts. They said school boards statewide would be overwhelmed with suspension appeals.

    “From what I’m looking at — just by reading and what I know — it seems like this was way overboard and this thing should have never even gotten to this point.. “This kid should have never been recommended for expulsion over something like this with a BB gun,” said Sen. Kirk Talbot .

    On Oct. 19, the Senate Education Committee also unanimously voted to advance the Act to the full Senate for final passage which it received with  35 votes, unanimously, on Oct. 20.

    “We have the legislature on our side…Had this not happened these children would have been left with no recourse,” said Cusimano.

    KaMauri’s Act

    If signed by the Governor before the legislative session ends on Oct. 27, the KaMauri Harrison Act will become a law in Louisiana and school districts will have to write policies specifically for online learning.

    The law would allow Ka’Mauri Harrison, and every student punished since schools shut down in March, to appeal all the way to District Court. It gives families more options to appeal disciplinary decisions, including a secondary review if they’re recommended for expulsion. This will allow students the opportunities to clear their school records as a result of a second appeal.

    “He (Ka’Mauri) doesn’t understand the seriousness of what’s going on right now, but he’s making history and I’m a very proud father,” Nyron Harrison told WDSU news. ℜ

    By Candace J. Semien

    Jozef Syndicate

     

    Read more »
  • ,

    Did you receive HUD rental assistance before Hurricane Laura? You may be eligible for FEMA help

    If you were directly impacted by Hurricane Laura and live in one of the 21 parishes designated for FEMA Individual Assistance and were receiving rental assistance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) prior to the hurricane, you should register with FEMA.

    You can apply for FEMA help if you were displaced from your HUD-assisted housing because of Laura. This includes those who were:

    • Living in HUD-assisted public housing.
    • Living in a privately owned apartment that provides rental assistance from HUD.
    • Living in a private home using a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher from a housing authority.

    Some of the assistance you may be eligible for:

    Temporary assistance to pay for a place for you and your family to live.
    Grants to replace essential contents — such as clothing and essential household items — and medical, dental and burial expenses.
    Those who have HUD rental assistance may receive FEMA help to pay for a place to live until:

    • You relocate back to public housing.
    • You relocate back to the private housing that provides HUD assistance.
    • You sign a lease with a private property owner using a Section 8 voucher.

    Federal law prevents FEMA from duplicating benefits provided by another agency. When a HUD-assisted resident’s home becomes unlivable, HUD stops paying rental assistance for that residence. The survivor may then apply for FEMA Individual Assistance. There is no duplication of benefits because HUD is not paying rental assistance.

    When the survivor moves back into a HUD-assisted residence or signs a new lease for rental housing under the Section 8 program, HUD assistance resumes. At that point, the survivor may no longer receive FEMA assistance.

    The first step to be considered for FEMA help is to apply. There are three ways:

    • Log onto DisasterAssistance.gov.
    • Download the FEMA app. You can also use the app to check the status of your application.
    • If you cannot access the website or FEMA app, call the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362 (TTY 800-462-7585). Those who use a relay service such as a videophone, InnoCaption or CapTel should update FEMA with their specific number assigned to that service.
    • Visit DisasterAssistance.gov and enter your address to find out if your parish is declared for Individual Assistance.

    For the latest information on Hurricane Laura, visit www.fema.gov/disaster/4559 or follow the FEMA Region 6 Twitter account at twitter.com/FEMARegion6.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Don’t make another mistake, Snoop Dogg, read the ballot

    Intense get-out-the-vote momentum is growing for November third, the day we Americans will cast our votes and “claim” who we want to serve as our 46th president. For first time voters like rapper Snoop Dogg who mistakenly believed he was not eligible to vote, the day has more significance than many media are reporting since many states have multiple races on their ballots. In Louisiana, each vote will critically impact city councils, judgeships, and the state constitution. First time voters will make a difference. But, do they understand that? And will they read the ballot?

    Organizations like the Baker-Zachary Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, and PAR Louisiana have released voter info and are hosting forums to help voters understand amendments.

    Read more from the Jozef Syndicate

     

    SWB_Digital_TheDrum_250x250_V2_Hires

    Read more »
  • Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins calls on Louisianans to come together, denounce white supremacy

    Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins released the following statement calling for unity in condemning white supremacy and hate groups:

    “White supremacy has a heinous chapter in our history that no Louisianan wants to resurrect. When David Duke ran for Governor in Louisiana, Republicans and Democrats came together behind the leadership of President George H.W. Bush to reject his candidacy. Today, we must once again reject calls for white supremacists to mobilize. We must look past our differences and reaffirm the shared values that make us Americans.

    Those shared values are why I stepped forward after September 11th to defend our nation and why I am stepping forward again today. I urge Senator Cassidy and every Louisianan to step forward together in denouncing white supremacy and declare in a united voice that we unequivocally condemn last night’s call for hate groups to “stand by.”

    We as a state and as a people have battled and defeated the scourge of white supremacy before and we shall do it again.”

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Diocese of Baton Rouge Catholic Schools accepting displaced students

    Catholic schools in the Diocese of Baton Rouge are opening their doors to displaced students from dioceses affected by Hurricane Laura.  Students enrolled in one of the 17 Catholic elementary and high schools located in the Dioceses of Alexandria and Lake Charles may apply by contacting the Baton Rouge Catholic school directly.  General information about Catholic schools in the diocese can be found at www.csobr.org, and a list of Catholic schools can be found through the School Finder Page at https://www.csobr.org/schoolfinder.

    While each school’s capacity to accept displaced students is different, especially because of reduced numbers in classrooms due to the pandemic, some schools have room for displaced students while still maintaining social distancing guidelines.  Some schools may require a two-week quarantine with virtual learning before the student can attend on-campus classes. Interested parents should contact the school directly to find out the process for applying.

    Displaced families will receive a reduced cost to attend Catholic schools in the Diocese of Baton Rouge.  Instead of a registration fee, a small application processing fee may be required.  No other usual fees will be charged to displaced families.  Likewise, the cost of annual tuition will not be charged, and the monthly tuition cost will be set by each school.

    Government tuition funding may be available for displaced families through two avenues.  Students from an affected area who were attending Catholic schools through the State of Louisiana Scholarship Program may be able to temporarily transfer their scholarship status with state approval.  Additionally, displaced families may be able to receive FEMA funding to attend a Catholic school in the Diocese of Baton Rouge, by completing an application at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-3362 from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm seven days a week. The number for assistance with hearing and speech impaired applications is 1-800-462-7585 (TTY).  Displaced families can also apply for tuition assistance directly from the school if the family is not able to pay tuition.

    Read more »
  • ,

    Lake Charles native’s gentrification initiative looks to help longtime residents in Houston

    WeBuyBlack reported that Christopher Senegal recently acquired two blocks in Houston’s historic Fifth Ward, which is known for its African-American roots and dubbed Houston’s “Black Wall Street.”

    Senegal, a Southern University graduate, started a new initiative called “Buy The Block” to help residents invest in their properties so they can stay in the neighborhood for the long term.

    Senegal’s journey started back in 2013 when he purchased a block no one wanted due to issues with drugs and crime. He was turned down by 23 lenders before eventually receiving funding.

    The young entrepreneur used crowdfunding so people could invest as little as $250 to own a piece of his company’s real estate portfolio.

    The first project consists of 14 town-home developments worth $3.9 million focused on bringing Black professionals back to the neighborhood. Another development consists of 18 homes and two commercial buildings worth $1.3 million.

    The Lake Charles native has managed to amass $700,000 through crowdfunding to protect his long-term, fixed-income residents from displacement.

    Senegal said he hopes the new initiative will encourage others to invest in their communities rather than move out when they reach a higher income bracket.

    By The Louisiana Weekly

    ONLINE: www.ChristopherSenegal.com

    Read more »
  • ,

    Louisiana to send 61 democrats to national convention

    The Louisiana Democratic Party announced Louisiana’s full delegation to the Democratic National Convention. Based on the results of the July 11 Presidential Primary, all Louisiana delegates are awarded to Vice President Biden.

    The list of members in Louisiana’s delegation can be found here.

    “This delegate election showcased the best of our party, and we’re so inspired by all of the candidates who stepped up to run. I’m incredibly proud to work with these convention delegates as we build our party’s platform and nominate Joe Biden as the next President of the United States,” Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, Chair of the Louisiana Democratic Party said. “These leaders reflect the rich diversity of our state and party, and I know they’ll represent Louisiana well at this historic convention.”

    Louisiana has a total of 61 delegates and 4 alternates, including 35 district level delegates, seven party leaders and elected officials delegates, 12 at-large delegates, and four alternates. Louisiana Democrats met or exceeded the vast majority of diversity goals and will send its most diverse delegation to a national convention ever.

    The Democratic National Convention will take place virtually on August 17-20, where delegates will elect a Democratic nominee for president and outline the party’s platform for the next four years.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    April Dunn Act signed furthering her legacy, work with disability affairs

    The Louisiana Legislature has renamed the Act 833 of 2014 as the April Dunn Act following the unexpected death the 33-year-old advocate for people with disabilities. Dunn was a dedicated staff member of the Governor’s Office of Disability Affairs. Because of Dunn, countless students with disabilities in Louisiana now have a pathway to earn a high school diploma. She was a tremendous asset to our team and to the state of Louisiana. Her enthusiasm and passion for life made a difference in everyone she came in contact with, and her work improved the lives of all Louisianans, including those with disabilities. She died March 28, 2020, of complications from COVID-19. With the Governor’s signature, the April Dunn Act became Act 1 of 2020, which further cements her legacy.

    Read more »
  • ,

    Bill by Rep. Frederick Jones to make probation less costly

    The Louisiana Senate passed several bills to improve Louisiana’s criminal justice system, including a bill to make probation less costly for both the state and offenders.

    Other bills would adjust the juvenile probation procedure and provide released prisoners letters verifying where they had served their time.

    The measures had already been approved by the House and now go to the governor for his approval.

    House Bill 643, sponsored by Monroe Democratic Rep. Frederick Jones, allows the parole board to reduce the level of supervision at which a parolee is monitored, potentially reducing the cost of probation for the state and reducing the number of fees that have to be paid by the parolee.

    Sen. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe, spoke in support of the legislation, which does not decrease anyone’s parole time. HB643 helps “lighten the level of supervision after so much time and also lighten the cost of supervision after so much time, which helps both the state and the offenders with the cost,” she said.

    Under HB643, the parole board can reconsider a nonviolent offender’s terms of probation after three years of parole. For violent offenders, the time frame is seven years. After the offender has completed the required time, the board can reduce the number of meetings that the offender is required to have with his or her probation officer per month.

    Jackson said district attorneys have voiced support for the bill. It passed with 35 yeas and 2 nays.

    The Senate also swiftly voted 33-0 in favor of House Bill 453, which ensures a minimum of three days’ notice before a court can make a change to a juvenile’s probation. Sen. Rick Ward, R-Port Allen, said the bill gives prosecutors time to look over any changes.

    By Kathleen Peppo
    LSU Manship School News Service

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Senate education committee to discuss La’s return to K-12 schools

    The Louisiana Senate Committee on Education, chaired by Senator Cleo Fields, is holding a hearing on Thursday, June 25, 2020 at 6pm in the John J. Hainkel, Jr. room of the Louisiana State Capitol to discuss plans for reopening Louisiana’s K-12 schools.

    The hearing will feature presentations by Cade Brumley PhD, Superintendent of Education, and Courtney Phillips, PhD, Secretary of the Department of Health. It will also include a question and answer session. All concerned individuals are encouraged to submit questions for possible consideration during the meeting.

    “As we look forward to the fall and the reopening of our school systems, we must send a consistent message to our constituents with regard to the plans and guidelines for the students of Louisiana,” said Fields. “Getting our students and teachers back into the classroom in the safest, most efficient manner is our top priority.”

    Individuals wishing to submit questions, may do so by emailing their name, address and question to selfs@legis.la.gov. Only questions received by email prior to 8 a.m. on June 24, 2020 will be considered for inclusion in the meeting.

    Read more »
  • ,

    COVID restrictions may require you to vote by mail or early. Here’s how.

    >NOTE: The April 4, 2020 and May 9, 2020 elections have been rescheduled for July 11, 2020 and August 15, 2020. If you received an absentee by mail ballot for the April 4, 2020 election, you do not need to request another absentee by mail ballot for the July 11, 2020 election. You may cast your vote on the ballot you have already received. If you have already returned your April 4, 2020 ballot to your registrar of voters, you have voted and it is not necessary for you to either request or submit another ballot for the July 11, 2020 election.

    In Louisiana, you must have a reason to be eligible to vote by mail, unless you are a military or overseas voter. There are specific reasons listed below that qualify you to vote by mail. You can submit an application requesting a mail ballot through our online system or you may print and mail an application directly to your registrar of voters.

    Please be aware of standard mail delivery times and the return ballot deadline when applying for a mail ballot to ensure your voted ballot is received by the registrar of voters before the deadline. It is recommended that if you are going to request a mail ballot that you apply as soon as possible as there is no start date to apply.
    Disabled voters, military voters, and overseas voters may be eligible to receive their mail ballot electronically. You may use the application forms below. If you need assistance in voting or additional information, contact your registrar of voters.
    Online Application: You may request an absentee by mail ballot by logging in to the Louisiana Voter Portal and following these steps:
    1. Click the “Search By Voter” button.
    2. Type in your First Name, Last Name and Zip Code or Birth Month and Year and then click the “Submit” button;
    3. Click the “Request Absentee Ballot” link found under the Quick Links heading; and
    4. Complete requested information and submit.
    Note: You must be logged in to the Voter Portal as the voter for whom the request is intended to electronically submit a request for an absentee ballot.
    Print and Mail Application: You may also print an application to request an absentee by mail ballot which you can complete and deliver to your parish registrar of voters. Delivery may be by U.S. Postal Service, commercial carrier, hand delivery or fax. If hand delivered or faxed, the application can only be for you or your immediate family member. Select the application that applies to you:
    View upcoming election dates. You will need to list the election dates on your application.
    GENERAL APPLICATION QUALIFICATIONS (REASONS TO APPLY)
    Senior Citizen: If you are 65 years of age or older you may apply through a General Application and once accepted by the registrar of voters, vote by mail. You may request a ballot for one (1) election only or you may choose to automatically receive a ballot by mail for all upcoming elections unless you cancel your request in writing to the registrar of voters or a ballot is returned as undeliverable.
    Temporarily Absent: If you are temporarily outside of Louisiana or your parish during the early voting period and on election day, or expect to be, you may apply through a General Application and once accepted by the registrar of voters, vote by mail. Any person who requests an absentee by mail ballot be mailed to an address within the parish must indicate on the application the dates that they will be outside the territorial limits of the state or absent from the parish.
    Offshore: If you work or expect to be offshore working during the early voting period and on election day, you may apply through a General Application and once accepted by the registrar of voters, vote by mail.
    Nursing Home: If you reside in a nursing home, veterans’ home or a hospital for an extended stay for a physical disability and are unable to vote in person during early voting or at the polls on election day, you may apply through a General Application and enroll in the nursing home early voting program. Once accepted by the registrar of voters, the registrar or a deputy registrar will go to your home facility during a period of a week prior to the beginning of early voting through the last day of early voting. The registrar of voters will bring either a paper ballot or a portable voting machine and guide you through the process of casting your vote.
    Higher Education: If you are a student, instructor or professor located and living outside of your parish of registration, or the spouse/dependent thereof, you may apply through a General Application and once accepted by the registrar of voters, vote by mail.
    Clergy: If you are minister, priest, rabbi, or other member of the clergy assigned outside of your parish of registration, or a spouse/dependent, you may apply through a General Application and once accepted by the registrar of voters, vote by mail.
    Moved Out of Parish: If you moved more than 100 miles from the parish seat of your former residence after the voter registration books closed (30 days prior to an election), you may apply through a General Application and once accepted by the registrar of voters, vote by mail.
    Involuntary Confinement: If you are involuntarily confined in an institution for mental treatment outside your parish of registration and you are not interdicted and not judicially declared incompetent, you may apply through a General Application and once accepted by the registrar of voters, vote by mail.
    Hospitalized: If you expect to be hospitalized on election day and did not have knowledge of the hospitalization until after the time for early voting had expired; or you were hospitalized during the time for early voting and you expect to be hospitalized on election day; or you were either hospitalized or restricted to bed by your physician during early voting and on election day, you may apply through a General Application and once accepted by the registrar of voters, vote by mail.
    Incarcerated: If you are incarcerated or expect to be incarcerated in an institution inside or outside of your parish of registration and you are not under an order of imprisonment for conviction of a felony, you may apply through a General Applicationand once accepted by the registrar of voters, vote by mail.
    Address Confidentiality Program: If you are a program participant in the secretary of state’s Address Confidentiality Program, you may apply through a General Application and once accepted by the registrar of voters, vote by mail.

    DISABLED APPLICATION QUALIFICATIONS (REASONS TO APPLY)

    Physical Disability: If you are physically disabled, you may apply through the Disabled Application and if not enrolled, enroll in the disability program. Once accepted by the registrar of voters, you may request a ballot for one (1) election only or you may choose to automatically receive a ballot by mail for all upcoming elections unless you cancel your request or a ballot is returned as undeliverable. You may also choose to receive your ballot electronically (by email). If you have not previously provided proof of disability to your parish registrar of voters, one of the following must be submitted along with your application:

    • a copy of a mobility-impaired identification card issued by the Office of Motor Vehicles;
    • a copy of social security disability benefits, veteran’s disability benefits, paratransit services, benefits from the Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities or benefits from Louisiana Rehabilitation Services; or
    • a physician’s letter certifying your disability.
    In addition to any disability documentation listed above, any voter enrolling in the disability program must also enclose a copy of a photo ID (Louisiana driver’s license, Louisiana special ID card or other photo ID with name and signature) or aletter of oath where you have listed the names and addresses of two persons residing in your precinct who could make oath, if required, to the fact that you are physically disabled.
    Homebound: If you are homebound and cannot vote without assistance, you may apply through the Disabled Application and if not enrolled, enroll in the disability program. If you are disabled and homebound and are voting for the first time, your proof of disability must be a physician’s letter certifying that you are homebound to exempt you from law that requires that you either register or vote for the first time in person. If you have previously voted, you may provide proof of disability through any of the documents listed above.
    TIMELINE TO REQUEST AN ABSENTEE BALLOT BY MAIL
    General and Disabled Applications: Applicants must request a ballot by 4:30 p.m. CST on the 4th day before election day.
    Military, Overseas or Hospitalized Applications: Military personnel and/or their dependents; U.S. citizens residing outside the U.S.; or voters that are hospitalized must request their ballot by 4:30 p.m. CST on the day before election day.
    METHODS FOR RETURNING YOUR VOTED BALLOTS
    • By Mail (includes commercial carrier).
    • By Fax: Upon request submitted to the registrar of voter.
    • By Hand Delivery: A voter or immediate family member of the voter may deliver the ballot to the registrar of voters (a signed statement must be completed upon delivery by anyone other that the voter, certifying their relationship to the voter).
    • Emergency Provisions: There are emergency provisions in place for Military, Overseas and hospitalized voters. Please contact the registrar of voters for additional information.
    DEADLINES FOR RETURNING YOUR VOTED BALLOTS
    General and Disabled Voters: Voted ballots must be received by your parish registrar of voters by 4:30 p.m. CST on the day before election day.
    Military, Overseas or Hospitalized Voters: Voted ballots by military personnel and/or their dependents, U.S. citizens residing outside the U.S., or voters that are hospitalized must be received by your parish registrar of voters by 8 p.m. CST on election day.
    If you feel that you will not be able to return your ballot timely, you may contact your registrar of voters for alternate methods to return your ballot. Alternatively, you may contact your registrar of voters and may be eligible to request that an immediate family member be allowed to pick up the necessary election materials from the Registrar of Voters Office.
    STATUS OF YOUR ABSENTEE BALLOT
    You can track the status of your absentee by mail ballot. See La R.S. 18:1303 and La R.S. 18:1307 for more information.
    REPLACEMENT BALLOT
    If you spoil your ballot, you may request a replacement ballot from your registrar of voters prior to submitting a voted ballot.
    Read more »
  • ,

    State accepting public comments on 2016 floods action plan

    The Louisiana Office of Community Development is accepting public comments on Action Plan Amendment 14, which modifies program budgets to help stabilize housing stock and provide critical assistance in areas impacted by the Great Floods of 2016. The formal public comment period for APA 14 begins today, Wednesday, June 10, and ends at 5 p.m. Tuesday, June 30, 2020.

    APA 14 moves more than $80 million in funding from undersubscribed programs into those with greater demand, while maintaining sufficient funds in the Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program to serve all active participants.

    View the plan at doa.la.gov/ActionPlans or request a copy by calling 225.219.9600. The plan is considered substantial, as it involves the movement of program funds and changes program beneficiaries. Substantial amendments are required to undergo a public comment period.

    Members of the public can submit comments in several ways:

    • Use the form at doa.la.gov/ActionPlans;
    • Email them to ocd@la.gov;
    • Mail them to Louisiana Office of Community Development, P.O. Box 94095, Baton Rouge, LA, 70804-9095, Attn: Janice Lovett; or
    • Fax them to the attention of Janice Lovett at 225.219.9605.

    After accepting public comments, the state will submit the plan to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for final federal approval. The funds represented in APA 14 are part of $1.708 billion in Community Development Block Grant disaster recovery dollars allocated by HUD to Louisiana for recovery from the Great Floods of 2016.

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Katrina then COVID-19: First-gen graduate, Jason Williams, leaves SUNO Honore Center ready for urban classroom

    New Orleans native Jamon Williams said his life’s calling is to teach and help others prosper by learning. In 2015, Williams answered that call by enrolling in Southern University New Orleans and joining the Honoré Center for Undergraduate Student Achievement, a program designed to guide Black male students through undergraduate studies through the College of Education. The Center and its staff lead scholars into urban classrooms as educators.

    May 9, 2020, would have been the day of commencement for Williams who plans to teach middle school in New Orleans. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, what would have been a time of celebration and interviews has become a time of lock-in for Williams and countless 2020 graduates around the globe who must celebrate the culmination of successful educational journeys in isolation.

    “I imagined my commencement to be a groundbreaking final hurrah, but that isn’t the case. I won’t be walking across the stage to receive my degree anytime soon, so it feels like winning a marathon with no finish line,” said Williams, who is his family’s first college graduate. He is also a member of the Honore Center’s eighth cohort.

    “I know that the impact of COVID-19 has affected everyone in the world in many ways and that this is a time for us to focus on how we as a world can overcome this pandemic together. That is most important to me. We must protect and educate ourselves, stay at home, help others when we can, adhere to social distancing, and remain hopeful,” said Williams.

    He has seen the toll COVID-19 has taken on SUNO and his community and plans to do all he can to educate others to protect themselves. To date, according to the Louisiana Department of Health, 6753 cases and 481 deaths have been reported in Orleans Parish and its impact has created a new way of living, communicating, and surviving. It is a feeling of change and readjustment eerily familiar to Williams who relocated to Alabama with his mother and four siblings during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and returned to the Ninth Ward in 2009. Together they rebuilt their lives, but now he says he is greatly concerned about COVID-19′s impact on his family and community although he expects the best because his experiences at the Honoré Center have allowed him to stand tall and face our changing world.

    “I know that the dedication and hard work that I have put in while at the Honoré Center will soon pay off and I will be able to continue to pursue my passion to educate others and to build knowledge,” he said.

    As a scholar of the Honoré Center, Williams received academic and social support from fellow students of his cohort and from director Morkeith Phillips. That support did not stop when the university moved to distance learning in response to the coronavirus. “It was never a question if the Honoré Center would continue to ensure our students had the support they needed to complete this academic year. When they start the program, they all have stories that have impacted their lives. They are here because they are fighters and have made it through. We never doubted their fight for success – even during these times,” said Phillips.

    Named after retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General Russel L. Honoré, the Center recruits male students into a highly structured campus living and learning environment designed to ensure their academic and personal success as college men and future leaders. Embedded on the SUNO campus in 2012, the Center addresses the important national challenge of increasing the number of male classroom teachers in urban settings while reversing the trend of fewer Black males graduating from college. All Honoré scholars commit to serving as classroom teachers in the New Orleans area for at least two years following graduation.

    By Shonda Y. Wessinger
    The Drum Contributing Writer

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Louisiana to provide EBT cards to feed students whose schools closed due to COVID; Applications taken through June 7

    Louisiana has received approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help feed as many as 611,430 students during the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced today.

    Under the new Pandemic EBT program, families of children who normally receive free or reduced-price meals at school may get financial assistance to replace those meals. All Louisiana public school and many non-public school facilities have been closed since March 16 because of the pandemic.

    P-EBT benefits will be provided to households that apply if they include children who were in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade and have temporarily lost access to free or reduced-price school meals, according to the Louisiana Department of Education and the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services. These benefits are intended to cover 50 school days, from the onset of statewide school facility closures through the end of the 2019-20 academic year.

    The P-EBT benefit amounts to $5.70 per day per child. That’s $285 for the 50 days, the same as the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs reimbursement rates. Louisiana officials estimate the state could distribute almost $174.3 million via P-EBT.

    Local school systems will notify families that they might be eligible for P-EBT. The families must then apply if they wish to receive the benefits. The application will be available in a P-EBT portal on the LDE website starting May 18, and the deadline to apply is June 7. State officials expect considerable interest in the program and ask applicants to be patient in trying to access the portal.

    Once the child’s information is verified, DCFS will mail a P-EBT debit card loaded with $285 per child, and instructions for using the card. State officials expect to begin mailing cards May 26. Benefits will be available for 365 days.

    The cards may be used at any store that accepts SNAP to buy SNAP-eligible food items.

    Many Louisiana public schools already are providing emergency or “grab and go” meals to children regardless of the child’s enrollment, family size or income, after receiving emergency permission from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The new P-EBT benefits do not preclude students from continuing to access those meals.

    “What’s important for parents to know is that P-EBT benefits are available to any family with children who received free or reduced-price meals at a school closed by the pandemic,” said DCFS Secretary Marketa Garner Walters. “Some of these families are enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program; others are not. We want to make all families whose children received free or reduced-price meals aware of the program and how they can apply for the benefits.”

    Louisiana had an estimated 611,430 children eligible for free and reduced-price breakfast or lunch this spring. That’s about 85 percent of all students in prekindergarten through grade 12. “This might be the only way some of our most vulnerable children can obtain a nutritious breakfast or lunch,” Edwards said. “They used to receive these meals at school, and now Louisiana can provide that benefit at home, too.”

    The P-EBT program was authorized by Congress in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020. In obtaining federal approval for P-EBT, Louisiana joins more than 22 other states participating in the program.

    “Louisiana is grateful to Congress, President Donald Trump and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue for making this benefit available and speeding its implementation,” Edwards said. “We look forward to feeding Louisiana families in these trying times.”

    “Schools do more than educate our children; they also provide them with healthy, nutritious meals. With school facilities closed for the duration of the school year, students cannot access these meals,” said acting State Superintendent of Education Beth Scioneaux. “School systems have stepped up to ensure no child in their community goes hungry, and the approval announced today provides in-need families with even greater security. We appreciate the leadership of the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services to make that possible.”

    For more information, visit LDE’s quick guide or DCFS common questions and answers about P-EBT.

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Business, industry association expresses ‘disappointment’ in May 15 stay-at-home extension

    The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry President Stephen Waguespack issued the following statement on Gov. John Bel Edwards’ extension of the current “Stay at Home” order:

    “We are obviously disappointed in today’s decision. Essential service industries such as groceries, hardware, maintenance and construction have operated safely and productively for weeks now and have shown us all that smart steps can be taken to protect the public AND serve the public at the same time. Right now, other small businesses are simply asking for the same right to show they too can operate safely and responsibly to serve their community and hire back their workers. Throughout this unprecedented crisis, Louisiana’s business community has been a good-faith partner for the state, aiding our neighbors and acting in the best interest of public health at great sacrifice. Every one of the 350,000 lost jobs represents a family that needs income and stability in both the short and the long term. Flattening the curve has taken a team effort by everyone, an effort we all can be proud of. Rebuilding this economy will be just as monumental of a team effort. We hope state officials use this additional time to develop a robust and targeted plan that gives clear safety guidance going forward and takes bold actions to jump start our badly damaged economy. We will need to overcome this and we will need it soon.”

    Today, LABI President Stephen Waguespack issued the following statement on Gov. John Bel Edwards’ extension of the current “Stay at Home” order:

    “We are obviously disappointed in today’s decision. Essential service industries such as groceries, hardware, maintenance and construction have operated safely and productively for weeks now and have shown us all that smart steps can be taken to protect the public AND serve the public at the same time. Right now, other small businesses are simply asking for the same right to show they too can operate safely and responsibly to serve their community and hire back their workers. Throughout this unprecedented crisis, Louisiana’s business community has been a good-faith partner for the state, aiding our neighbors and acting in the best interest of public health at great sacrifice. Every one of the 350,000 lost jobs represents a family that needs income and stability in both the short and the long term. Flattening the curve has taken a team effort by everyone, an effort we all can be proud of. Rebuilding this economy will be just as monumental of a team effort. We hope state officials use this additional time to develop a robust and targeted plan that gives clear safety guidance going forward and takes bold actions to jump start our badly damaged economy. We will need both to overcome this and we will need it soon.”

    About the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry

    The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry was organized in 1975 to represent Louisiana businesses, serving as both the state chamber of commerce and state manufacturers association. LABI’s primary goal is to foster a climate for economic growth by championing the principles of the free enterprise system and representing the general interest of the business community through active involvement in the political, legislative, judicial and regulatory processes.

    ONLINE:www.labi.org

    Read more »
  • ,,,,,

    Eight Southern University leaders assigned to Governor’s COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force

    Southern University System will have seven representatives on Governor John Bel Edwards Louisiana COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force. The task force will focus on research and actions to improve health outcomes and equity for the state’s residents. The group’s progress will be monitored by a statewide Health Equity Dashboard.

    From Southern are:

    Sandra Brown, Ph.D., dean of the Southern University College of Nursing and Allied Health, will serve as co-chair of the task force

    Southern University System president-chancellor Ray L. Belton, Ph.D. and chief of staff Katara Williams, Ph.D., will serve on the task force’s administration along with SU alum and Commissioner of the Louisiana Board of Regents, Kim Hunter-Reed, Ph.D.

    Orlando F. McMeans, Ph.D.,, chancellor-dean of the Southern University Ag Center and the College of Agricultural, Family and Consumer Sciences.

    Dr. Rani G. Whitfield, Southern University System Board Member and family practice physician.

    Deleso A. Alford, professor of law at the Southern University Law Center and expert on marginalized people in American healthcare, and Damien Ejigiri,Ph.D, dean and professor of the Nelson Mandela School of Government and Social Sciences will serve on the task force’s public and regulatory policy subcommittee and focus on policies and laws that impact health disparities.

    The task force is scheduled to hold its first meeting on Friday, April 24. For additional information about the Louisiana COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force and a complete list of members, click here.

     

     

    Read more »
  • ,,,,

    NFL, Players Coalition commit $3 Million+ to support COVID-19 relief; six La. organizations included in aid

    The NFL, through its Inspire Change platform and the Players Coalition,  announced a donation of $3,050,000 to seven markets that have been significantly impacted by COVID-19.

    Recipients of the funds include health systems, individual hospitals, and non-profit organizations in Atlanta, Ga., Baltimore, Md., Chicago, Ill., Detroit, Mich., Florida, Louisiana, and Washington, D.C.

    While the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting our communities nationwide, reports show that communities of color, specifically African American communities, have seen disproportionately high rates of devastating impacts. As part of the multi-year, ongoing collaboration of NFL players, clubs, and owners to address racial inequality and social injustice, the Players Coalition recommended the organizations which were then approved by the broader Player-Owner Social Justice Working Group. These emergency donations come from the NFL’s dedicated social justice investment. Beneficiaries were selected based on rates of impact and community needs.

    “We know that during this difficult time, our minority and low-income communities are struggling disproportionately with the impact of COVID-19,” said Players Coalition co-founder and Working Group member Anquan Boldin. “Communities in Detroit, Chicago, Baltimore and more are getting hit hard right now, and we want to do our part in ensuring these areas have even the basic needs. We are glad we can partner with the NFL to support the organizations that are on the ground providing for these families.”

    “This is a difficult time for our nation, and it is important for us to continue to find ways to support those that need it most,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “We have an opportunity to direct financial resources to the hardest hit populations. This pandemic is having a tragic effect on communities of color and through Inspire Change and our relationship with the Players Coalition, we are pleased to be able to help where we can.”

    “It’s especially critical to provide extra support for our minority communities who don’t always have access to the basic necessities,” said Players Coalition Task Force member and Working Group member Kelvin Beachum. “We are thankful we can give to the hospitals and organizations in COVID-19 hot spots that are supporting our minority communities and fighting to save lives during this pandemic.”

    More than $50 million has been donated to date in support of COVID-19 relief by the greater NFL family, now including the NFL’s Inspire Change social justice contribution. Inspire Change supports NFL players, clubs, and non-profit grant partners in their efforts to reduce barriers to opportunity with a focus on education and economic advancement, police-community relations, and criminal justice reform.

    Please see below for the full list of beneficiary organizations. The NFL’s COVID-19 relief efforts will continue with this week’s Draft-A-Thon during the NFL Draft on ESPN, NFL Network and ABC starting April 23, 2020 at 8 p.m. ET.

    The following Louisiana organizations will receive COVID-relief funding from the NFL’s social justice initiative:

    Louisiana

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Projections show Louisiana could be grappling with COVID-19 until the end of the year

    Regional planning projections released by the Louisiana Department of Health show that while aggressive mitigation measures appear to be effectively flattening the COVID-19 curve, Louisiana could be grappling with the virus at least until the end of the year. 

    “Forecasting what is going to happen with COVID-19 in the state of Louisiana is challenging and nearly impossible,” said interim secretary of the Department of Health Stephen Russo. “Just as it is impossible to forecast the exact weather and temperature on a given day.”

    “While these planning projections show our healthcare system may not be overwhelmed, they also show that we are not out of the woods,” said Alex Billioux, assistant secretary of the Office of Public Health . “It’s important that we continue to do our part to protect ourselves and our families.”

    “These planning projections are good news and it’s good news we all need to hear right now. It means we are moving in the right direction but we must stay on course,” said Russo. “There is significant concern that if we make sudden changes or stop social distancing that we will see another large spike and strain on our health care resources.”

    Here is a link to the full set of regional projections, last updated on April 16, 2020: http://ldh.la.gov/COVID-19Modeling
    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Faith leaders urge Gov. Edwards to use emergency powers to release detainees

    More than  50 faith leaders from a wide range of locations and denominations signed on to a letter this week urging Governor John Bel Edwards to immediately release elderly and vulnerable detainees in Department of Corrections and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities. There are more than 18,000 cases of and over 700 deaths from the highly contagious and deadly virus COVID-19 in Louisiana. Positive tests have been confirmed at almost every DOC facility and at least two ICE facilities. Without the ability to follow Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for social distancing, quarantine, and hygiene that prevent the spread of COVID-19, loved ones, advocates, and faith leaders fear that uncontrollable outbreaks will cause a catastrophic loss of life among those incarcerated and employed in detention facilities, as well as the surrounding communities across the state.

    The request calls upon Governor Edwards to utilize emergency powers for release provided to his office under the constitution.

    The letter states, “We fear those in detention are being sentenced to death despite your power to release them. We fear for those who work as correctional officers, medical staff, chaplains, mental health providers, and all personnel. We are concerned for their families and communities as well. This virus does not know the boundaries of confinement.”

    “For people of the Christian faith, this holy week from Palm Sunday leading up to Easter is about entering into the suffering of the world and deciding how we will respond.  The most vulnerable in the United States are the more than two million people sitting in prisons, jails, and detention centers with no protection and no place to go to stay safe from being infected by and dying of CoViD-19. This most sacred time of the year is a stark reminder of the choices we make. Our actions will reflect and our society will be measured by how we treat the most vulnerable during this time,” said Sister Alison McCrary, SFCC, Esq.

    “As an advocate and a minister, I appeal to Governor John Bel Edwards, as well as our state Legislature, to reduce the inmate population in Louisiana’s overcrowded prisons and jails. Louisiana incarcerates more people per capita than any other state in the country. In Angola alone, over half the inmates are morethan 60 years old or live with chronic health issues such as high blood pressure, heart conditions, diabetes, and obesity. Medical experts say that people with these conditions are more likely to die from COVID-19 than those who do not have these pre-existing health concerns. The experts also recommend social distancing as the most effective way to avoid spreading the virus.  Reduction of the prison population is not just a medical necessity based on these expert opinions, but necessary to uphold the State’s moral obligation to protect its most vulnerable citizens,” said Minister Leo Jackson, Second Zion Prison Ministry.

    Read the letter to Governor Edwards from Faith Leaders here.

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Chief Justice Johnson issues guidance to reduce prison population, increase public safety during COVID-19

    Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson issued guidance to Louisiana District Judges on Thursday, April 2, urging to them conduct a comprehensive review to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission and release incarcerated people under certain circumstances. The letter comes after a week of evolving news developments about COVID-19 positive cases in state corrections facilities.

    The Louisiana Department of Corrections has reported that 14 employees and five incarcerated people have confirmed cases COVID-19. A third individual incarcerated at a federal prison in Oakdale has also succumbed to the disease. Orleans Parish Prison, East Baton Rouge Parish Prison, and Jefferson Parish Prison all have confirmed cases of COVID-19.

    In order to reduce risk to staff, decrease the number of cases overall, and protect public health, Chief Justice Johnson urged that all district courts “conduct a comprehensive and heightened risk-based assessment of all detainees” and take the following actions:

    1. For those charged with misdemeanor crimes, other than domestic abuse battery, favor a nominal bail amount, or a release on recognizance order – with, of course, a notice to appear on a future date;
    2. For those convicted of a misdemeanor crime, consider a modification to a release and supervised probation or simply time-served;
    3. For those charged with a non-violent offense, consider a reduced bail obligation or a release on recognizance order with, of course, a notice to appear on a future date;
    4. For those charged in other criminal matters, re-examine the nature of the offense and criminal history, if any, to determine if any bail revisions are appropriate;

    By comparison, Louisiana has taken very few steps to reduce the population in corrections facilities as a response to COVID-19 threat in prisons. A chart that shows what other states have done to protect public health by reducing prison populations is linked here.

    Federal funding was made available a few days ago through Bureau of Justice Assistance formula grants that can be drawn down during this emergency to support justice system responses to COVID-19, including home confinement, pretrial release, and other jail alternatives. Louisiana is allocated $9.7 million for this purpose and would have to apply for the funding by May 29th.  Cities, townships, and parishes could apply for an additional $5 million in funding (allocations ranging in size from $33,000 to $1 million depending on population).

    ONLINE: https://www.lasc.org/COVID19/2020-04-02-LASC-ChiefLetterReCOVID-19andjailpopulation.pdf

     

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Novel about 1977 Monroe, La. murder published

    In 1977, Vonda Lanell Harris was raped and murdered. In a bumbled investigation, Monroe Police pinned the crime on a Wossman High School student who spent 40 years of his life in prison before being exonerated by DNA.

    The Perfect Patsy, a novel by Monroe Free Press publisher Roosevelt Wright Jr., is now available on Amazon. The 420-page historical fiction details the murder, the trial, imprisonment, and exoneration of Gerald Manning as it paints a picture of justice in 1977 Monroe, La.

    In 1977, Harris was found raped and murdered in the Booker T. Community. After six months of intense investigations, police detectives interviewed over 60 suspects but still came up empty-handed.

    Then they stumbled upon Gerald Manning, a Wossman High School athlete who mysteriously “confessed” to the Harris murder and to every open rape case on the police books. Many of the rape victims told police Manning was not their assailant, but it didn’t stop them from pinning its unsolved rapes on the gullible youth.

    Despite two trials, and subsequent appeals, Manning was sentenced to life in prison.

    The Monroe community never gave up on him as the local NAACP, a civil rights attorney and newspaper publisher, fought for his release for 40 years.

    In one of his last acts as District Attorney Jerry Jones asked the Innocence Project of New Orleans to look into the Manning conviction. The organization specializes in defending suspects wrongfully convicted based on DNA evidence.

    In 2018, DNA evidence excluded Manning as a suspect in the rape and murder, and he was released from prison. DNA evidence was not used in the legal system in 1977.

    “While the book is about how Manning was wrongfully incarcerated, it also points out that the rape and murder of Vonda Lanell Harris remain unsolved,” said Wright.

    “When the local police couldn’t solve the murder, Gerald Manning’s willingness to confess to rapes and a murder that he did not commit made him the perfect patsy,” said Wright.

    The novel takes the reader back in time and draws the reader into 1977 Monroe politics and shows how politicians used the Manning case to defeat his attorney Paul Henry Kidd. Kidd represented most Black groups in Northeast Louisiana and filed suits challenging segregation and white supremacy.

    The novel, extracted from court records, transcripts, and news accounts, details the epic fight to defeat Kidd at any cost.

    Before his death in 2011, Paul Kidd said, “I have represented many guilty men and helped them get free. But, Gerald Manning is the first man that I ever represented who I knew as innocent, but was being falsely accused for political reasons.”

    Manning now lives in Monroe. He said he harbors no ill will against those who stole 40 years of his life.

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Governor Edwards issues statement on guilty plea in case of church fires

    Governor John Bel Edwards issued a statement today on the guilty plea of Holden Matthews on six state charges and six federal charges, including six total hate crime charges, for setting three historic African-American churches on fire in St. Landry Parish last spring.

    Edwards said:

    “These unthinkable acts deprived three church communities of not only their places of worship, but their sense of security. Holden Matthews’ actions came from a place of hate and intolerance and the charges he has pled guilty to speak to the serious and sickening nature of his crimes.

    I have often said that hate is not a Louisiana value. I have visited and prayed with the congregations of St. Mary Baptist Church, Greater Union Baptist Church, and Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in the aftermath of these fires and saw unshakable faith and strength in the midst of tragedy and beautiful love and forgiveness spring forth from pain. I ask that the people of our state continue to pray for and support these three churches as they rebuild and continue their missions.

    I also thank the hundreds of members of law enforcement, including the State Fire Marshal’s office, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Justice, Louisiana State Police, the St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office, the St. Landry District Attorney’s office and others who assisted in this case.”

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Legislative Youth Advisory Council now accepting applications from high schoolers

    The Louisiana Legislative Youth Advisory Council is now accepting applications for membership from high school students who have an interest in representing the voices of other young people around the state. LYAC is an annually appointed body composed entirely of students that tackle issues affecting the youth of Louisiana.

    The purpose of LYAC is to facilitate the communication between youth and the legislature and to give students a unique opportunity to be involved in the workings of state government. The council studies and addresses a variety of issues of importance to young people such as education, mental health, civic engagement, the environment, and school safety.

    Members of the council are selected from a wide pool of statewide applicants who display a strong interest in civic involvement. The thirty-one member council includes three students representing each of the six congressional districts and the remaining members serve at large. Applicants must be between 14-19 years old and enrolled in a public or private high school, charter school, home school, or GED skills program during the 2020-2021 school year. 

    The deadline to apply is March 27, 2020. The application may be accessed at civiced.louisiana.gov and then by clicking on LYAC at the top of the page. All applicants are required to submit two recommendation letters in addition to the eight short essay questions and application form. For additional information, please contact Megan Bella at bellam@legis.la.gov or 225-342-2370.

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    LAE responds to Superintendent of Education John White’s resignation

    Louisiana Association of Educators president Tia Mills,Ph.D. issued the following response to Superintendent of Education John White’s resignation from the Louisiana Department of Education:

    While LAE members wish Mr. White the best in his future endeavors, we are happy about a change in leadership at the Louisiana Department of Education. I know many educators were not pleased with the initiatives pushed by Mr. White’s administration. His departure presents Louisiana’s education professionals with an opportunity to focus on positive change for our public school students.

    All eyes are now on the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) and the Louisiana Senate, the groups charged with filling Mr. White’s position. The women and men who serve in these bodies must hire an individual with an extensive background in serving students in a K-12 public school system. LAE will be extremely vocal in this selection process.

    This could be the beginning of a promising new period for public education in Louisiana. I, along with members of the LAE, look forward to forging a collaborative relationship with the incoming members of the state board of education (BESE) and their new leader. LAE members are committed to working alongside all key players in education as we continue to help move Louisiana’s public schools in a positive direction for our precious children.

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Tangipahoa Parish Schools continue to seek unitary status despite continued segregation

    HAMMOND—When Tangipahoa Parish School Board released a statement on September 26, 2019, it sent shock waves throughout the African-American community.

    The board released the following statement: “On Thursday afternoon, September 26, 2019, the Tangipahoa Parish School Board made history, adopting the recommendation of attorneys in the longstanding Joyce Marie Moore federal desegregation case and authorizing a jointly filed consent agreement in the 54-year-old case.”

    This statement prompted Nelson Taylor, the lead attorney in the case, to call a community meeting to inform the community about the case Oct. 30, at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church in Hammond.

    Nelson said, “This case is coming to an end, I don’t know how the judge is going to rule in this case. This case has slew of court orders.”

    Attorney Gideon Tillman Carter III wrote the final agreement for the school board. “This agreement will dismiss all litigations,” Taylor said.

    “Carter is not the lead attorney, he has no authority to write anything. Carter has disrupted my team.”

    The 34-page “Final Agreement” outlines the scope of the work that the district will continue in good faith in order to maintain a unitary school system. A school district is unitary when it has eliminated the effects of past segregation.

    Once the board achieved unitary status, they are not obligated to do anything. “It’s business as usual”, said Taylor, “The board doesn’t need unitary status to remove all those portable buildings they can do that now.

    The powers-that-be has their hands on this school board. One white board member had the nerve to go on television and say they will not vote for a tax for the board if the board is under court order to do things for Blacks”. Tangipahoa Parish has the lowest tax for schools than any other parish in the state.

    “If you want good schools, you must have a good tax base. There is something the African American community can do. Have a community meeting, discuss and plan what you want in your schools and where those schools should be located,” said Taylor, “The African American community did not create a dual system of education in this parish.” The board should build high schools in central locations like Ponchatoula and Hammond High with the same curriculum. The board is building schools around subdivisions.

    “The parish has two African American board members, they should have three and maybe four. You should check the parish demographics.”

    Former president of The Greater Tangipahoa Parish NAACP Pat Morris said, “No one wants this case settled more than I do. But it must be done the right way, according to Amendment 14. Equality for everyone. This case is about African American children and their parents.” Taylor asked for the African American community to show up in Federal Court in record numbers on November 20, 2019.ℜ

    By Eddie Ponds
    Ther Drum Founding Publisher

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Dr. Leonard Weather appointed to the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners

    The Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners announced that Dr. Leonard Weather was appointed to one of two positions on its board of directors as a representative for the Louisiana Medical Association.

    Weather is an obstetrician-gynecologist. Prior to Hurricane Katrina his practice was in New Orleans; it is now in Shreveport. He received his bachelor of science in Pharmacy from Howard University in 1967, and his MD from Rush Medical College in Chicago, Illinois, in 1974. He completed his internship, residency and fellowship in Gynecology and Obstetrics at Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland and finished the program in 1978. 

    Dr. Weather is a health educator and professor, ordained minister, artist, author and photographer. He has authored three inspirational poetry books and an infertility handbook. He is an active gynecological clinical trials researcher, has presented over 190 peer reviewed presentations and papers on pelviscopic surgical treatment of infertility, endometriosis, pelvic pain and fibroids. He invented the surgical procedure Optical Dissection Pelviscopy, to assist in the prevention of organ injury during laparoscopy. Dr. Weather is a past president (2010-2011) of the National Medical Association, the New Orleans Medical Association and the Louisiana Medical Association, and currently serves as the president of the Northern Louisiana Medical Association. He is a member of the Board of Scientific Advisors to the Endometriosis Association, World Endometriosis Society, a fellow of the Academy of Physicians in Clinical Research, and Grand President of the Chi Delta Mu Medical Fraternity.

    The mission of the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners is to protect and improve the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of Louisiana through licensing, regulation, research, and discipline of physicians and allied health professionals in a manner that protects the rights and privileges of the licensees.

    ONLINE: www.lsbme.la.gov

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    LEH is calling all aspiring young artists, illustrators for scholarship opportunity

    Applications are due November 1 for the Gustave Blache III Art Scholarship, offered by the LEH and the School of Visual Arts in New York City and open to all aspiring artists from Louisiana interested in attending SVA.

    The scholarship helps cover tuition and housing costs associated with pursuing either Bachelor or Master of Fine Arts degrees in Illustration at SVA, one of the nation’s premier art schools. Applications are due November 1.

    Full scholarship and application details can be found on LEH’s website.

    Feature photo of previous scholarship winners Marguerite Michel and Paul Michael Wright

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Ernest E. Garrett III to Guide Louisiana’s Special School District

    Following a national search, State Superintendent of Education John White announced Ernest E. Garrett III will serve as the new Superintendent of the Louisiana Special School District (SSD), guiding the implementation of the SSD’s new three-year strategic plan and overseeing all operations of its special schools and programs. Garrett will take the helm Sept.3.

    The SSD was established by the Louisiana State Legislature to provide education to students housed in state or privatized facilities and hospitals. The SSD oversees Louisiana’s two special schools: the Louisiana School for the Deaf and the Louisiana School for the Visually Impaired. It also manages educational programs for eligible students enrolled in the Office of Youth Development, Office of Behavioral Health, Office of Developmental Disabilities, Department of Public Safety, and Corrections, and privatized facilities across the state.

    “Ernest is a strong leader and passionate advocate whose extensive experience, as a school administrator, as an advocate of students with low-incidence disabilities and as a social worker in both the school and clinical settings, will bring a unique perspective to the SSD and to the state education department’s executive team,” White said. “We look forward to watching the SSD redefine itself as a statewide model of excellence under his guidance.”

    Garrett, a native of Missouri, is the former executive director and chief executive officer of Deaf Empowerment Awareness Foundation, Inc., an organization designed to empower, raise awareness, and bridge a sustainable foundation of communication and equal access to both the deaf and hard of hearing and the hearing communities in the St. Louis metro area.

    Garrett previously served as the first deaf and first African-American superintendent of the Missouri School for the Deaf. In that role, he championed the idea of  “education without limits” and was instrumental in leading the school through a change management process that resulted in a new mission, vision, motto, and strategic plan that drew unanimous approval from the school’s advisory board. Garrett has also acted as the executive director of the Missouri Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and worked as a licensed social worker in both school and clinical settings.

    Garrett holds bachelor’s degrees in history and in professional and technical writing from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and master’s degrees in social work and administration from Gallaudet University, a federally chartered private university for the education of the deaf and hard of hearing.

    He also holds an advanced research qualification in management, specializing in leadership and organizational change, from Walden University, the same institution at which he is currently a doctoral candidate in the final stages of his dissertation, which examines hiring and retaining persons with disabilities for leadership positions. His anticipated completion date is December 2019.

    “I am delighted at this opportunity to return to my first passion, which is the education of students with disabilities, and do not take lightly my selection for this role at such a critical time in the SSD’s history,” Garrett said. “The education of children with disabilities is an issue that resonates with me both personally and professionally. I believe that all children can learn and that it is our responsibility as leaders, educators, policymakers, advocates, and stakeholders to ensure that students with disabilities receive the best quality education and are thus prepared for college and the workforce upon graduation. Settling for anything less than high expectations for all students–regardless of disability–is not an option.”

    Read more »
  • ,

    Insurance executive, local agent Tim Temple announces campaign for Commissioner of Insurance

    DeRidder native and long-time local agent and insurance industry executive Tim Temple announced his candidacy for La. Commissioner of Insurance, saying “For too long we’ve prioritized political experience, and the results have been painful for the citizens of Louisiana.”

    Temple has served in various roles in the insurance industry over the past 25 years, from neighborhood insurance agent to insurance executive helping businesses recover from the BP oil spill. “What Louisiana needs most now is a Commissioner who understands insurance first-hand. For too long we’ve prioritized political experience over knowledge of the industry and the results have been painful for the citizens of Louisiana; the highest auto rates in the nation, fewer companies writing policies, and a business climate which often pays many times more in premiums than our neighboring states. This cannot continue and that’s why I felt I ultimately needed to run for this office,” said Temple.

    The top priorities for Temple will be addressing Louisiana’s highest insurance rates in the nation, increasing competition by recruiting more insurance companies to begin doing business in Louisiana, improving the service and communication aspect of the office, and being a voice for both ratepayers and the industry. Temple is kicking off the campaign with a tour of the state. The tour will begin in Temple’s hometown of DeRidder.

    Temple and his wife Amy Marie Temple, live in Baton Rouge with their two daughters, Aubrey and Sophia. He is president of Temptan, a family owned business in Baton Rouge. While serving on the Louisiana Committee of 100 for Economic Development, he works outside of government to provide leadership and resources. He has helped create real and positive change for Louisiana residents in government, education, and the economy. Temple is a founding board member of the Louisiana National Guard Youth Challenge Foundation and a member of the NRA.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    John Warner Smith named Louisiana’s newest Poet Laureate

    Governor John Bel Edwards and the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities has selected John Warner Smith as Louisiana’s newest Poet Laureate.

    A native of Morgan City, Smith began writing poetry while simultaneously building a successful career as a public administrator and a banker. He now teaches English at Southern University and A&M College, in addition to regularly publishing new works of poetry. Since 2007, he has directed Education’s Next Horizon, a non-profit policy advocacy organization dedicated to improving public education in Louisiana.

    Smith is a fellow of the prestigious Cave Canem program and has four published collections of poetry: Muhammad’s Mountain (Lavender Ink, 2018), Spirits of the Gods (UL Press, 2017), Soul Be A Witness (MadHat Press, 2016), and A Mandala of Hands (Kelsay Books – Aldrich Press, 2015). His fifth collection, Our Shut Eyes, is forthcoming from MadHat Press.

    He will serve as poet laureate for two years. Smith is available for public readings, workshops, and lectures, at venues across Louisiana during his tenure. Contact Christopher Robert at (504) 620-2639 or robert@leh.org.

    ONLINE: http://www.johnwarnersmith.com

    Read more »
  • ,,,,,

    Residents urged to prepare for 2019 hurricane season

    The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season officially begins on June 1, 2019 lasting through November 30, 2019. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a “near-normal” 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season.

    Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome and the Mayor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (MOHSEP) urge the residents of East Baton Rouge Parish to plan ahead for the potential threat of hurricanes. Throughout the 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season, Mayor Broome advises East Baton Rouge Parish citizens to, “Be Red Stick Ready by having a plan that will keep you and your family safe from any severe weather that may affect our area, stay informed, build a disaster supply kit, and use the Buddy System™.”

    2019 Hurricane Preparedness Tips:

    • Make a Family Communication Plan at www.brla.gov/DocumentCenter/View/5697/Family-Emergency-Communication-Plan?bidId=
    • Restock your emergency supply kit with the necessary items.
    • Make sure your home is prepared.
    • Trim or remove damaged trees and limbs.
    • Secure and clear all gutters.
    • Fuel your vehicles, generators, and gas cans. Consider purchasing a portable generator.
    • Use the BuddySystem™ to check on your neighbors, friends and family.
    • Check your insurance coverage.
    • Visit www.redstickready.com for more preparedness tips.

    For more information contact MOHSEP at  (225) 389-2100, follow @RedStickReady on Facebook and Twitter, and download the Red Stick Ready mobile application – free on Apple and Android devices by searching “Red Stick Ready”.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Grambling State approved to offer cybersecurity degree

    NNPA Newswire–Grambling State University has been approved to offer the state’s first Bachelor of Science degree in cybersecurity. The University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors provided their approval and support for the university’s program, according to a news release. The next step in the process is approval from the Louisiana Board of Regents.

    Students will be eligible to begin enrolling in the program in fall 2019.

    “With the vision of your team and the support of this Board, we are confident Grambling is prepared to educate cybersecurity professionals the market is demanding,” said Board Chair Al Perkins. “These graduates will be equipped with highly sought-after skills to protect us as technology becomes more prevalent in our daily lives.”

    Grambling State faculty member, researcher and a member of the Louisiana Cybersecurity Commission Yenumula B. Reddy, Ph.D., has been spearheading the new program’s development.

    “We are excited about the work of Dr. Reddy and his team,” said Grambling State President Rick Gallot. “Their continuous innovation in research and the classroom are paving the way for this program. We are excited for the impact their leadership and our system-level support will have on our state and economy.”

    The news comes on the heels of an October report issued by the University of Louisiana System that said Grambling State University has doubled its fiscal health score since FY 2016, increasing from a 1.30 to a 2.60 as of the most recent report.

    The fiscal health score, developed by the Louisiana Board of Regents, measures overall organizational health, factoring in important components including debt, revenue, and ability to operate.

    “It’s been a team-wide effort,” Gallot said. “As a part of our commitment to innovation, we’ve engaged new talent and alumni from across the U.S. who not only understand our charge but offer us expert perspectives and thought leadership.”

    Leading the University’s fiscal health initiatives team is Martin Lemelle Jr. the University’s Chief Operating Officer and Interim Vice-President of Finance. The initiative also includes team members who offer experience from higher education, Silicon Valley, and public accountancy.

    “We’re an example of what’s possible when we partner,” said Lemelle. “The key to our successes has been a university-wide combination of collaboration and commitment. We’ve seen innovative ideas from every area, from our controller’s office to our academic units.”

    The outputs of these collaborative teams are having a direct impact on the institution’s bottom-line. Some of those outputs include:

    $1.2 million in annual savings through participating in the Department of Education’s Historically Black College and University Capital Financing Program;

    Overall expense reduction of more than $6 million;

    A 320 percent annual increase in grants from federal and state government initiatives; and

    Realizing new revenue opportunities that include an increase in third-party commissions and its “Look for the Label” program which focuses on increasing licensing royalties.

    “Grambling State University is experiencing a renaissance. Its vastly improved fiscal health is yet another indication of the effective leadership and hard work occurring at all levels of the institution,” University of Louisiana System President Jim Henderson said. “From its enrollment numbers to its operations, it’s exciting to see the rapid and significant advancement of this historic institution.”

    By Stacy M. Brown
    NNPA Newswire Correspondent

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Health department schedules statewide flu vaccine clinics

     With flu season starting, the Louisiana Department of Health is scheduling flu vaccination days to be held throughout the state. These one-day clinics will allow people to come in and get a flu shot at little or no cost to the patient.The flu causes approximately 500 deaths and nearly 3,000 hospitalizations each year in Louisiana. However, in Louisiana last year, there were more than 15,000 hospitalizations and more than 1,600 deaths from the flu. Of those more than 1,600 deaths, five were pediatric deaths.

    “Getting vaccinated not only protects you from the flu, but it also protects those around you, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness,” said Dr. Frank Welch, immunization director for the Louisiana Department of Health. “A flu shot is your best defense in both reducing your chances of getting the flu and spreading it.”

    These community flu clinics are open to the public, and walk-ups are welcome. Wear short or loose-fitting sleeves and bring your private insurance, Medicaid or Medicare card with you. For those without insurance, the shot will cost $10.

    Click here for the listing of all clinics.

    Flu Shot Facts

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Louisiana Department of Health recommend a yearly flu shot for everyone over 6 months of age who does not have a complicating condition, such as a prior allergic reaction to the flu shot.

    A flu shot is especially crucial for people who may be at higher risk for serious complications. This includes babies and young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions and people 65 years and older.

    The flu shot is safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women, who can pass on antibodies to their babies that will help protect them.

    The flu shot starts to offer partial protection immediately but takes about two weeks to offer full protection.

    Flu shots are also available at local pharmacies, clinics, doctor’s offices and federally qualified (community) health centers. Check flushot.healthmap.org for a flu shot provider near you.

    Visit www.ldh.la.gov/fighttheflu for more information and resources.

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Paris McClain wins Louisiana National American Miss Jr. Preteen

    Nine-year-old Paris McClain has won the title of 2018 Louisiana National American Miss Jr Preteen.  She also won 1stRunner Up Actress and 3rdRunner Up Talent, Overall Best Resume, and Overall Best Thank You Letter in her age group. Her hobbies include volleyball, softball, dance, acting and arts. She also enjoys participating in the Destination Imagination STEM Club at Baton Rouge Center for Visual and Performing Arts School. Paris also loves to volunteer at the food bank, feeding the homeless, and collecting clothing for girls in need.

    As the 2018 Louisiana National American Miss Jr Preteen, she received an $1,000 cash award, the official NAM crown and banner, a bouquet of roses, and air transportation to compete in the national pageant at Disneyland® in California the week of Thanksgiving. She will also be touring the famous streets of Hollywood while in California as part of her prize package.

    She said she plans to share her platform with girls all over the state. Paris wants to encourage young ladies to believe in themselves and always chase their dreams, just as she does.

    The National American Miss Pageant system is the largest in the nation. The focus of this organization is to create future leaders and to equip them with real-world skills to make their dream a reality.  The program is based on inner beauty, as well as poise and presentation, and offers an “All-American spirit of fun for family and friends.” Emphasis is placed on the importance of gaining self-confidence and learning new skills, such as good attitudes about competition, as well as setting and achieving personal goals. The Louisiana pageant was held June 2, 2018 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. National American Miss is a pageant system for girls ages four through 18. Contestants competed in four overall categories including Formal Wear Modeling, Personal Introduction, Interview, and Community Service Project.  National American Miss also offers optional contests such as the Top Model Search, Talent, and Actress.

     

     

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Searching for the Louisiana Young Heroes of 2019

    Louisiana Public Broadcasting and the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge are looking for the 2019 Louisiana Young Heroes. A Young Hero is an exceptional young person who has excelled in academics, given significantly of themselves through public service, overcome adversity, or inspired others through their deeds and strength of character.

    Nominations are now being accepted for the 24th annual Louisiana Young Heroes.

    Nominees must be Louisiana students enrolled in an academic institution or homeschool program, and cannot be older than 18 years of age. Nominations and supporting materials are submitted through the online form at lpb.org/heroes. Previous winners are not eligible. The deadline for entries is November 30, 2018. Louisiana Young Heroes Day will be Monday, April 15, 2019. This year’s honorees will receive a $1,000 tuition assistance grant and other special awards.

    Submit a nomination at lpb.org/heroes.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Should jury convictions be unanimous? and other questions head to Louisiana voters Nov. 6

    Senator J.P. Morrell

    Senator J.P. Morrell

    Like the rest of the nation, Louisiana voters will head to the polls November 6 for mid-term elections. But, here, voters will also decide on six constitutional amendments including one that has garnered national attention from criminal justice activists, entertainers, and legal organizations. It is the question of if  jury convictions be unanimous?

    Clearly one of the most discussed political and legal policies of the recent legislature, the non-unanimous juries were proven to vestiges of Jim Crow policies that unfairly lead to mass incarceration and voter suppression statewide.  Originally a senate bill  authored by Senator. J.P. Morrell (D-New Orleans), the law goes to vote in November. Voters will decide the fate of a new law and change in the constitution to require juries in felony cases to reach a unanimous verdict. Right now, only 10 of 12 jurors are needed, even on some murder cases.

    Angela Allen-Bell

    Angela Allen-Bell

    “We are sending people to prison (for felonies) routinely without the unanimous vote of 12,” law professor Angela Allen-Bell told Eric Hatfield and Perry Daniels, hosts of Louisiana All American Sports Show on WYBR 96.9FM. “This is historic. This is important. This is going to be the greatest piece of criminal justice legislature to impact any of us in our lives because of the far-reaching effects of this.” She started public discussion on the topic in 2015 at Southern University Law Center. Allen-Bell, a legal analyst, said the damage of the unjust, non-unanimous jury law is extensive.

    In two months, voters will also decide if convicted felons can be allowed to run for office, if certain funds can be used for traffic control, and if increased property taxes be phased in. Here are the amendments as they will appear at the polls:

    Proposed Amendment No. 1 : Act 719 of the 2018 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature proposing to add Article I, Section 10.1 to the Louisiana Constitution.

     “Do you support an amendment to prohibit a convicted felon from seeking or holding public office or appointment within five years of completion of his sentence unless he is pardoned?”

    Proposed Amendment No. 2: Act 722 of the 2018 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature proposing to amend Article I, Section 17(A) of the Louisiana Constitution.

     “Do you support an amendment to require a unanimous jury verdict in all noncapital felony cases for offenses that are committed on or after January 1, 2019?”

    Proposed Amendment No. 3:  Act 717 of the 2018 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature proposing to amend Article VII, Section 14(B) of the Louisiana Constitution.

    “Do you support an amendment to permit, pursuant to written agreement, the donation of the use of public equipment and personnel by a political subdivision upon request to another political subdivision for an activity or function which the requesting political subdivision is authorized to exercise?”

    Proposed Amendment No. 4: Act 720 of the 2018 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature proposing to amend Article VII, Section 27(B)(1) of the Louisiana Constitution.

    “Do you support an amendment to remove authority to appropriate or dedicate monies in the Transportation Trust Fund to state police for traffic control purposes?”

    Proposed Amendment No. 5:  Act 721 of the 2018 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature proposing to add Article VII, Sections 18(G)(6), 21(K)(4) and (M)(4) of the Louisiana Constitution.

    “Do you support an amendment to extend eligibility for the following special property tax treatments to property in trust: the special assessment level for property tax valuation, the property tax exemption for property of a disabled veteran, and the property tax exemption for the surviving spouse of a person who died while performing their duties as a first responder, active duty member of the military, or law enforcement or fire protection officer?”

    Proposed Amendment No. 6: Act 718 of the 2018 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature proposing to amend Article VII, Section 18(A) and (F) of the Louisiana Constitution.

    “Do you support an amendment that will require that any reappraisal of the value of residential property by more than 50%, resulting in a corresponding increase in property taxes, be phased-in over the course of four years during which time no additional reappraisal can occur and that the decrease in the total ad valorem tax collected as a result of the phase-in of assessed valuation be absorbed by the taxing authority and not allocated to the other taxpayers?”

    Read more »
  • ,,

    School’s in, drivers need to be vigilant

    The start of a new school year in Louisiana also means drivers need to be vigilant through school zones and around school buses.

    School zone times vary around the state but generally are in effect anytime from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. and from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Fines for speeding through a school zone can be steep, especially if the driver also is talking, listening or texting on a cell phone.
    “In addition to a fine of up to several hundred dollars for speeding through a school zone, a driver using a cell phone in a school zone also can be fined up to $500,” said Lisa Freeman, executive director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission. “A driver who engages in multiple violations of cell phone usage in a school zone can further risk a fine of up to $1,000 and be exposed to a driver’s license suspension as well. If a driver is involved in a crash in a school zone while using a cell phone, fines can be doubled.
    “The idea behind stiff fines is to keep our school zones safe, and sometimes it takes a high penalty to make that point,” Freeman noted.
    Freeman also urged drivers to understand the laws regarding when a driver must stop for a bus that is flashing red lights, which indicates it is loading or unloading children.
    • On a two-lane road, all vehicles in both directions must stop.
    • On a three-lane road with a center turning lane, all vehicles in both directions must stop.
    • On a four-lane road with no median or other physical barrier between the lanes, all vehicles in both directions must stop.
    • On a divided highway with a grass median or other physical barrier, vehicles moving in the same direction as the bus must stop; oncoming traffic should proceed with caution.
    • On a highway that has a center turning lane with two travel lanes on each side, vehicles moving in the same direction as the bus must stop; oncoming traffic should proceed with caution.
    The chart above, courtesy of the state Department of Transportation and Development and Louisiana State Police, is a handy reminder of the school bus laws.
    Read more »
  • ,,

    Edwards announced his appointments to several Louisiana boards and commissions

    Gov. John Bel Edwards announced his appointments to several Louisiana boards and commissions.

    St. Bernard Port, Harbor and Terminal District
    The Board of Commissioners of the St. Bernard Port, Harbor and Terminal District Board has complete jurisdiction to regulate all domestic, coastwise, and intercoastal commerce and traffic of the district, and all commerce and traffic within the district where such is conducted by or a facility wholly owned by the district.

    William T. “Bill” Bergeron, of Arabi, was appointed to the St. Bernard Port, Harbor and Terminal District. Bergeron is a managing member of Bergeron Resources, LLC. As required by statute, he was nominated by a majority of the St. Bernard Parish legislative delegation.

    Patient’s Compensation Fund Oversight Board
    The purpose of the Patient’s Compensation Fund Oversight Board is to guarantee that affordable medical malpractice coverage is available to all Louisiana private healthcare providers and to provide a certain, stable source of compensation for legitimate injured parties of medical malpractice.

    Corey J. Hebert, M.D., of New Orleans, was appointed to the Patient’s Compensation Fund Oversight Board. Hebert is a physician and the president and Chief Executive Officer of Hebert Medical Consulting, Inc.

    Louisiana Emergency Response Network Board
    The Louisiana Emergency Response Network Board serves to defend the public health, safety and welfare by protecting the people of the State of Louisiana against unnecessary deaths and morbidity due to trauma and time-sensitive illness.

    Gerald A. Cvitanovich, M.D., of Metairie, was reappointed to the Louisiana Emergency Response Network Board. Cvitanovich is a physician and the Chief Medical Officer of MHM Urgent Care. As required by statute, he was nominated by and will serve as a representative of the Louisiana State Coroner’s Association.

    William W. Lunn, M.D., of New Orleans, was reappointed to the Louisiana Emergency Response Network Board. Lunn is a physician and the Chief Executive Officer of the Tulane Health System. As required by statute, he was nominated by and will serve as a representative of the Tulane Health System.

    Paul B. Gladden, M.D., of New Orleans, was appointed to the Louisiana Emergency Response Network Board. Gladden is a physician and Chief of Orthopaedic Trauma Surgery at Tulane University. As required by statute, he was nominated by and will serve as a representative of the Louisiana State Medical Society.

    Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners
    The Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners (LSBME) protects the health, welfare, and safety of Louisiana citizens against the unprofessional, improper, and unauthorized practice of medicine by ensuring that those who practice medicine and other allied health professions under its jurisdiction are qualified and competent to do so.   In addition, the Board serves in an advisory capacity to the public and the state with respect to the practice of medicine.

    Christy L. Valentine, M.D., of New Orleans, was reappointed to the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners. Valentine is a physician and Medical Director with Anthem, Inc. As required by statute, she was nominated by the Louisiana Medical Association.

    Roderick V. Clark, M.D., of Lafayette, was reappointed to the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners. Clark is a physician with Acadiana Renal Physicians. As required by statute, he was nominated by the Louisiana State Medical Society.

    J. Kerry Howell, M.D., of Baton Rouge, was reappointed to the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners. Howell is a physician in private practice and a veteran of the United States Air Force. As required by statute, he was nominated by Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center.

    Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists
    The Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists is responsible for licensure and regulation of psychologists within the state.

    Gregory K. Gormanous, Ph.D., of Alexandria, was appointed to the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists. Gormanous is a licensed psychologist and Professor Emeritus of Psychology at Louisiana State University – Alexandria. He is also a veteran of the United States Army. As required by statute, he was nominated by the Louisiana Psychological Association.

    Louisiana Board of Pharmacy
    The Louisiana Board of Pharmacy serves to protect the public health, safety and welfare by the effective control and regulation of the practice of pharmacy; the licensure of pharmacists; and the licensure, permitting, certification, registration, control and regulation of all persons and sites, in or out of this state, that sell drugs or devices to consumers and/or patients, or assist in the practice of pharmacy, within the state. The board also serves as the controlled substance authority for the state, issuing controlled dangerous substance licenses to all qualified applicants desiring to manufacture, distribute, prescribe or dispense controlled dangerous substances within the state. Further, the board monitors its clients for compliance with the laws and rules relative to their activities with controlled dangerous substances.

    J. Robert Cloud, PharmD, of Chatham, was appointed to the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy. Cloud is a pharmacist and the Director of Pharmacy at the Glenwood Regional Medical Center. He will serve as a representative of the 5th Pharmacy Board District.

    Kevin LaGrange, of Lafayette, was appointed to the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy. LaGrange is a pharmacist at Professional Arts Pharmacy. He will serve as a representative of the 7thPharmacy Board District.

    Robert C. “Rock” LeBas, of Opelousas, was appointed to the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy. LeBas is a pharmacist and the owner of Glenn’s Family Pharmacy. He will serve as a representative of the 8th Pharmacy Board District.

    Rhonny K. Valentine, of Natchitoches, was reappointed to the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy. Valentine is a pharmacist who provides relief work for retail pharmacies. He will serve as a representative of the 4th Pharmacy Board District.

    Blake P. Pitre, of Houma, was reappointed to the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy. Pitre is a pharmacist and the owner of B&J Pitre Pharmacy. He will serve as a representative of the 3rdPharmacy Board District.

    Read more »
  • Restore La. task force meets July 13 in Baton Rouge

    Task force to consider resolution to expand homeowner reimbursement award
    The Restore Louisiana Task Force will meet Friday, July 13 at 9:30 a.m. in House Committee Room 5 at the State Capitol. Members will consider a resolution proposed by Gov. John Bel Edwards to expand the Restore Homeowner Assistance Program tiered reimbursement award to 100 percent for all eligible homeowners. It’s currently set at 50 percent. View the Governor’s press release here. The Office of Community Development will provide updates on the Restore Homeowner Assistance, Rental Housing, Economic Development and Infrastructure Programs. Additionally, the Task Force will receive a presentation on the Louisiana Watershed-Based Floodplain Management Program by the Council on Watershed Management. The Council was established by Gov. Edwards earlier this year to look at ways to implement a statewide floodplain management program to mitigate future risks to communities impacted by frequent flooding and severe weather events.

    The meeting will be livestreamed on the Louisiana Legislature’s website at www.legis.la.gov which will be shared on restore.la.gov and the Restore Louisiana Facebook page. All Task Force documents are available at Restore Louisiana Task Force Resources.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Developmental Disabilities Council seeks public comment by June 11

    Public Comment Sought on Council’s 

    FFY 2019 Action Plan

    During its April meeting, the DD Council approved its  Action Plan for Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2019 (October 2018 – September 2019).  Highlights of the Council’s Action Plan includes activities to support advocacy and self-advocate leaders; advocacy for adequate funding to ensure quality services are accessible statewide to people with unmet needs; advocacy for support structures for developing and implementing Individual Education Plans; training for people with developmental disabilities and their family members on sexuality, sexual abuse and exploitation; training and technical assistance to build the capacity of child care providers with including children with disabilities; and multiple initiatives designed to build capacity in both supported employment and customized employment, including mentoring in certification of Employment Support Professionals in Customized Employment.
    Comments on the Action Plan should be sent to Derek White at Derek.White@la.gov by June 11, 2018.
    Read more »
  • ,,,,

    Payday lenders fail to win Louisiana’s representatives approval for expansion

    The House Commerce Committee on Wednesday, May 9, rejected a push by the national payday lending industry to expand its Louisiana operations and make the debt trap deeper and longer for vulnerable borrowers. Witnesses testified to the harms payday lending already inflicts on Louisiana families, as well as the availability of much cheaper and less harmful alternatives.

    6 Carmen Green JS journalist“We applaud the nine committee members who voted against Senate Bill 365 for standing with the people of Louisiana and against predatory lenders who trap hardworking people in debt they can’t afford,” said Carmen Green, state policy fellow of the Louisiana Budget Project. “Payday lending is not the short-term cushion that their lobbyists make it out to be; it is set up to milk people for the cash they need to keep their families going.”

    The bill was opposed by a broad array of organizations including the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops, the United Way of Southeast Louisiana, the credit union industry and even local payday lenders. Fourteen groups signed an open letter to Louisiana legislators urging their opposition to the bill, including the Louisiana NAACP, faith groups, and advocates for low-income families.

    “Payday lenders will try to tell you our communities need these loans. We don’t. We need safe, responsible resources for people who are struggling to make it, not debt traps disguised as short-term relief, but that actually confiscate big chunks of their customers’ wages over weeks, months and even years,” said Byron Sharper, President of the Baton Rouge chapter of the Louisiana NAACP. “Payday lenders are known to target communities of color in particular, so the NAACP has long opposed this predatory business model.”

    Read more »
  • ,,

    COMMENTARY: Push for new constitution is suspicious

    A small group of apparently well-funded interest groups are pushing for a constitutional convention to draft a new constitution for the state of Louisiana. Lobbyists have been hired to promote the idea and rumors are circulating that big money will be spent on advertising and electing delegates to the convention. That’s enough to raise suspicions but there are more reasons to be concerned about a convention; primarily that the proponents, whether in the legislature or out, won’t say what the new constitution should contain. How better to sell an idea? Simply make it a vote for a blank slate and claim it’s the panacea for solving state budget problems without explaining how.

    The complaints about the current constitution made by the proponents of HB 500 (the legislative instrument needed to convene a convention) include that it is too long (because of amendments voted on by the people) and that it “locks up” too much state spending. Of course much of the spending that is locked up has nothing to do with the constitution. Mandated federal spending, contractual obligations, consent decrees, election costs and the like add up to billions. Moreover, the constitutionally dedicated fund that contains the real money is the K-12 education fund (the “MFP”) and most of the others are simply trust funds not dependent on yearly appropriations (Coastal Restoration, Rainy Day, various tobacco litigation funds) or have a dedicated funding source (D.O.T.D. funded by the gas tax) or are simply too small to matter. I haven’t heard any of my constituents screaming about the overfunding of public education or that our infrastructure is in great shape and thus we need to take money away from the Transportation Trust Fund. The proponents of HB 500 haven’t said such things either because if that’s what they’re after, it wouldn’t pass the legislature. So what do they want? Our homestead exemption? Our education funding? the prohibition against donations of public property? To eliminate the 2/3 vote required to raise taxes? Some suspect an effort to shift the tax burden to the middle class and simultaneously preserve tax breaks for special interests. We need some answers as to what these proponents of a new constitution actually want. Until we get some truthful answers the public should demand a no vote on HB 500.

    Sincerely,

    Jay Morris
    State Representative / District 14
    Monroe, La

    Read more »
  • ,,

    14 groups and BR NAACP petition legislators to stop bill that expands predatory lending

    Legislation backed by the national payday lending industry that would expand their operations in the state narrowly passed the Louisiana Senate by a vote of 20-17 on Tuesday, May 1. Predatory payday already lending drains more than $240 million each year from Louisiana workers by saddling vulnerable borrowers with high-interest loans that they often cannot afford. But instead of working to address this problem, the Senate has voted to make it worse.

    Senate Bill 365 would expand predatory lending in Louisiana by allowing payday and car title lenders to issue “installment loans” with annual interest rates of up to 167 percent. The bill is being pushed by national predatory loan corporations as a way to evade new federal consumer protection regulations. Similar bills have already been rejected in several other states (Florida being the lone exception).

    “We see too many people taken down the path of financial ruin by payday lenders in Louisiana already,” said Carmen Green, State Policy Fellow of the Louisiana Budget Project.”This bill should not even be on the table. We ask our lawmakers to stand with the hardworking people of our state and not the payday lending industry.”

    Fourteen groups signed an open letter to Louisiana legislators urging their opposition to the bill, including the Louisiana NAACP, faith groups, and advocates for low-income families.

    “Payday lenders will try to tell you our communities need these loans. We don’t. We need safe, responsible resources for people who are struggling to make it, not debt traps disguised as short-term relief, but actually confiscate big chunks of their customers’ wages over weeks, months and even years,” said Bryon Sharper, President of the Baton Rouge Chapter of the Louisiana NAACP. “SB 365 adds a new triple-digit interest cash-stripping mechanism to what we’ve already got in this state. It is absurd and will hit low-income people hard. Payday lenders are known to target communities of color in particular, so the NAACP has long opposed this predatory business model.”

    The Louisiana Legislature should be looking to expand consumer protection rather greenlight an expansion of the predatory lending industry.

    For more information about Senate Bill 365, click here.

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Senator Chabert writes ‘It’s time to end attacks’

    Dear Editor:

    Since 2014, several parishes have filed lawsuits in an attempt to make energy manufacturers pay for rebuilding Louisiana’s coast. These lawsuits are mostly being driven by plaintiff’s law firms that have built reputations for suing our state’s oil and gas companies.

    Restoring our coast and protecting our wetlands is an important mission, but these lawsuits are not the answer. The reality is that there are many parties that contribute to coastal and wetland degradation in our state, not just energy manufacturers. The energy manufacturers are good corporate citizens that contribute to their communities in many ways. These employers are the source of thousands of high paying jobs, tens of billions in economic growth, and billions more in state and local tax revenue. The recent approval of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline project is an example of this recent growth.

    These lawsuits attack the companies that are currently the largest contributors to our coastal restoration funds. If we truly want to grow and maintain our coastline, we should be doing everything possible to encourage the industries to locate and expand in our state. It’s time to end these attacks and come together to create a coastal protection plan that works for everyone.

    Sincerely,

    Senator Norbert “Norby” Chabert
    Louisiana Senate District 20

    Read more »
  • ,

    Public asked to comment on future of Medicaid-management care March 14 – 16

    The Louisiana Department of Health is seeking public input as the State moves towards improving its Medicaid managed care program. Those who are interested in learning more about the department’s plans are invited to attend one of three forums scheduled this week.
    The forums will allow participants to learn about, and provide input on, Medicaid’s next Request for Proposals (RFP) for new Medicaid-managed care contracts. This competitive process will begin in early 2019. The meetings will be held at the following dates, locations and times:
    March 14
    Baton Rouge
    Our Lady of the Lake, Main Auditorium
    5000 Hennessy Blvd., Baton Rouge
    6 pm to 8 pm
    March 15
    Lafayette
    Lafayette General Hospital, Administrative Office
    920 W. Pinhook Road
    6 pm to 8 pm

     

    March 16
    Lake Charles
    Lake Charles Memorial Hospital, Sherman Conf. Center
    1701 Oak Park Blvd.
    11:30 am to 1:30 pm
    Louisiana Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rebekah Gee will be attending the March 15 forum in Lafayette.  “The future managed care approach will emphasize rewarding providers for better care, improving whole-person care and excelling at population health management,” said Gee.
    With more than 1.5 million Louisiana residents enrolled in Healthy Louisiana, Medicaid’s managed care program, the Department of Health is committed to designing a procurement to find the best health plan partners to achieve the “Triple Aim” of better care, better health, and lower costs in the Medicaid program.

    “The Department is early in the policy development and information gathering stage for this future procurement and looks forward to public input in the design process,” said Jen Steele, Medicaid director.

    Currently, the state has contracts with five managed care plans to provide specific Medicaid benefits and services to eligible children and adults in Louisiana.

    The current Medicaid-managed care contracts will expire on December 31, 2019, and the new Medicaid managed care contracts formed through the RFP will be in place for January 1, 2020.

    All meetings are open to the public, and pre-registration is not required. For more information, visit www.makingmedicaidbetter.com or email healthy@la.gov.

    Read more »
  • ,

    ANALYSIS: La’s non-unanimous jury law: an instrument of legal, political, social oppression

    While Louisiana fought the Civil War, Booker T. Washington was a child slave.  After the Civil War, both he and the state of Louisiana had a new course to charter. Louisiana, faced with the emancipation of approximately 331,000 slaves, had to confront issues including voting rights, education and criminal justice. Washington was tasked with shedding his identity as an object—a piece of property—and embracing the world as a human with rights, feelings, aspirations and a purpose. History records Washington as the victor.

    Washington, a great orator, writer and respected advisor to Presidents, founded a university and became one of the most influential Black intellectuals of the late 19th century. Instead of true transformation, Louisiana opted for cosmetic reform. It went from a state that trafficked people for their free labor in a financial and a social caste system to a state that criminalized and incarcerated people within the same caste-based structure.

    With high hopes, Washington pleafully penned an open letter to the Post-Civil War, 1898 Constitutional Convention:

     Since the war, no State has had such an opportunity to settle for all time the race question…as is now given to Louisiana…Will your Convention set an example to the world…?…It requires little… statesmanship to repress, to crush out, to retard  the hopes and aspirations of a people, but the highest and most profound statesmanship is shown in…stimulating a people so that every fibre in the body, mind and soul shall be made to contribute…to the usefulness and nobility of the State.

    His sagacious words met resistant ears. In reflection on their accomplishments, the Convention of all white males haughtily expressed: “Our mission was…to establish the supremacy of the white race…to the extent to which it could be legally and constitutionally done.…”

    Non-unanimous verdicts, used in non-capital, felony cases, made its way to the Constitution of 1898. They allow convictions on a vote of as few as ten jurors. Besides Louisiana and Oregon—the only free state admitted to the union with an exclusionary clause prohibiting African Americans from residing or owning property there and once an embracing home to the Ku Klux Klan—all other states have a unanimous jury system, requiring all twelve jurors to vote in favor of a conviction in these types of criminal cases.

    In 1803, when Louisiana became a territory, unanimous verdicts were required. The change from unanimity was to: (1) obtain quick convictions that would funnel people into Louisiana’s newly-created convict leasing system (as a replacement for free slave labor); and, (2) ensure Black jurors would not block convictions of other African Americans.

    This Jim Crow Era law was revisited during the 1973 Constitutional Convention.  A change from nine to ten of twelve was made.  “Efficiency” was cited as justification for maintaining the system.

    In the 1972 case of Apodaca v. Oregon, the United States Supreme Court endorsed this system. Citing Apodaca, Louisiana courts won’t consider challenges, despite over forty-five years of credible research establishing that unanimous verdicts are more reliable and more thorough.

    There’s evidence that non-unanimous juries contribute to wrongful convictions, mass incarceration and the marginalization of women and minorities. This law causes different Sixth Amendment standards between federal courts (which require unanimous verdicts in criminal cases), the other forty-eight state, criminal courts (which require unanimous verdicts) and the Louisiana and Oregon state courts. The impact is tantamount to a form of gerrymandering in that it dilutes a voting block within the jury.

    The law allows a prosecutor to circumvent jury discrimination rules preventing race from being justification not to seat a juror by simply silencing the voice of Black seated jurors after-the-fact. It shows flagrant disregard for the American Bar Association’s position that unanimous juries should be used in all state and federal criminal courts.  The law also promotes oppression and discrimination and undermines public trust in the Government.

    Courts are not the sole solution. The legislature could initiate or endorse a change in the law, which will ultimately have to be removed from the state constitution.

    Racism, oppression and discimination are sustained not only by humans, but also by laws, policies, and systems. Efforts to address one, but not all will produce outcomes instead of changes. Emancipation was not just about physical freedom. The Civil Rights Movement was not just about physical presence. The struggle has always been about social, legal and political equality. The 1898 Convention officials knew the consequence of denying these things.  They observed:

    Whatever is unjust carries in itself the seeds of defeat and decay. Justice is irrepressible. No matter how you may trample it…its voice is never silent. It clamors…with a force that is irresistible until at last its voice will be heard and the structure whose foundations rest upon its violation will crumble into ruin….

    The Sixth Amendment assures an impartial jury and the Framers envisioned that to be a unanimous vote of twelve.  It is our collective duty, “with a force that is irresistible, to crumble into ruin this unjust system.”  Washington did what he could.  Will you?

    Angela Allen-Bell

    Angela Allen-Bell

     By Angela A. Allen-Bell

    Angela A. Allen-Bell is an associate professor of legal writing and analysis and B.K. Agnihotri Endowed Professor at Southern University Law Center. Follow her @AngelaAllenBell

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Feature image from http://www.courts.oregon.gov/courts/lincoln/jury/Pages/default.aspx

    Read more »
  • ,,

    State asks public for comments on reallocating disaster recovery funds from The Great Food of 2016

    The Louisiana Office of Community Development is accepting public comments on an Action Plan Amendment that reallocates Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery funding received from the Department of Housing and Urban Development for recovery from The Great Floods of 2016.

    Action Plan Amendment 7 will move $22,484,482 from the Multifamily Rental Gap program, which has experienced lower than anticipated demand, into the Neighborhood Landlord and Piggyback rental programs; and will amend the maximum award for the Piggyback program in order to accommodate multiple affordable housing models. The total Rental Housing Allocation will remain the same at $134,163,402.

    The formal public comment period for Action Plan Amendment 7  continues until 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018. Residents, community leaders and elected officials can view the plan by visiting http://www.doa.la.gov/Pages/ocd-dru/Action_Plans.aspx and clicking on the respective APA link.

    Read more »
  • ,

    Gov. Edwards Proclaims February 2018 Black History Month in Louisiana

    Gov. John Bel Edwards proclaimed February 2018 Black History Month in the state of Louisiana.

    “Every year during the month of February, we pause to pay special appreciation for the role African Americans have played in our state’s economic, cultural, spiritual and political history. Without a doubt, Louisiana is a better place for everyone to call home because of those who have fought for justice, equality and freedom. We take this time each year to celebrate and learn more about the significant achievements and contributions they have made to our state and our nation.”

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Louisiana Travel Association announces new officers, honors graduates of tourism leadership class

    The Louisiana Travel Promotion Association–-which voted Jan. 23 to change its name to the Louisiana Travel Association-– installed a group of tourism industry leaders as new officers for its executive committee and board of directors during the association’s Annual Membership Meeting at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Lafayette.

    “For 57 years, LTA has strengthened Louisiana’s tourism industry through our marketing program, advocacy efforts and educational opportunities,” said Jill Kidder, LTA President and CEO. “We are thrilled that our members have selected tourism industry leaders from throughout the state to lead this organization as we continue to promote a viable job-creating and revenue-producing industry.”

    New officers installed on the executive board committee include:
    · Chairman Travis Napper, Ruston-Lincoln CVB
    · Vice-Chair Janice Delerno Verges, The Stockade Bed & Breakfast
    · Secretary Ben Berthelot, Lafayette CVC
    · Treasurer Kerry Andersen, Pinnacle Entertainment
    · Immediate Past Chair Mark Romig, New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation

    New directors:
    · Timothy Bush, Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou
    · Dustin Gontarski, Compass Media
    · Jennifer Ritter Guidry, Atchafalaya National Heritage Area
    · Kevin Kelly, Houmas House Plantation & Gardens

    Returning directors:
    · Marc Becker, New Orleans Hotel Collection
    · Peggy Benoit, Carmel Inn & Suites Thibodaux
    · Dickie Brennan, Dickie Brennan & Company
    · Alana Cooper, Monroe-West Monroe CVB
    · John Crook, Vernon Parish Tourist Commission
    · Brandy Evans, Shreveport-Bossier CTB
    · Marion Fox, Jeff Davis Parish Tourist Commission
    · Arlene Gould, Natchitoches Parish CVB
    · Andy LeBouef, Mardi Gras World
    · Ralph Ney, Marriot Hotel Baton Rouge
    · Donna O’Daniels, St. Tammany Parish Tourist & Convention Commission
    · Lynette Tanner, Frogmore Plantation & Gins
    · Denise Thevenot, Louisiana Tax Free Shopping

    LTA also honored the Louisiana Tourism Leadership Academy graduates during the meeting. The 18 members of the LTLA class spent all of 2017 developing their leadership skills while learning from seasoned professionals from throughout the tourism industry. The goal of the program is to equip each class member with knowledge and skills that will enrich their tourism-related organizations, therefore strengthening the state-wide tourism industry.

    “LTLA has been a tremendous opportunity for those interested in learning more about Louisiana’s tourism industry, and we are proud of the 2017 graduating class,” said Jill Kidder, LTA President and CEO. “It is our hope that these professionals will utilize their new-found knowledge and experience to better themselves, their organizations and their state.”

    Louisiana Tourism Leadership Academy 2018 graduate

    Louisiana Tourism Leadership Academy 2018 graduate

    The graduating class of LTLA includes: Rebecca Blankenbaker, with Cane River National Heritage Area; Marica Brewster, with Von Mack Agency; Alvon Brumfield, with Louisiana Renaissance Festival; Kimberly Caldarera, with L’Auberge Casino Resort Lake Charles; Megan Gavlick, with L’Auberge Casino Resort Lake Charles; Katherine Johnson, with Natchitoches CVB; Zondra Jones, with St. Tammany Parish Tourist Commission; Leslie Landeche, with Mardi Gras World; Barry Landry, with Louisiana Office of Tourism; Shanna Landry, with Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana CVB; Kaylie Leblanc, with Lafayette CVC; Angie Manning, with Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana CVB; Joshua McNemar, with Office of the Lt. Governor; Jessica Ragusa, with Office of the Lt. Governor; Madeline Sanchez, with Louisiana Travel Association; Timika Spurlock, with Sheraton New Orleans; Stella Thorton, with Louisiana Tax Free Shopping; and Kellie Walters, with Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou.

    LTA is a trade association leading and strengthening Louisiana’s vibrant tourism industry through promotion, education and advocacy on behalf of our members. The membership voted in early 2018 to shorten the association’s name and staff is working with an agency to reveal a full rebrand later this year. Tourism generated $1.04 billion for Louisiana in 2016 and employs more than 230,000 people throughout the state.

    ONLINE: LTPA.org

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Technical assistance services available for small businesses impacted by floods

    The Louisiana Office of Community Development has announced an application deadline of Wednesday, Feb. 28, for the Restore Louisiana Small Business Program, which offers interest-free, partially forgivable loans to businesses impacted by the 2016 floods.

    The $43 million program is designed to help eligible businesses in the 51 parishes that were impacted by the March and August 2016 floods. To date, the program has funded about $11 million in loans.

    “This program has the potential to help many small businesses impacted by the 2016 floods, but time is running out,” OCD Executive Director Pat Forbes said. “The first step for owners to find out if they qualify is to apply, and we encourage all of those who are in the recovery process to do so before the deadline.”

    There are five participating lenders accepting applications throughout the 51 impacted parishes. Their information, as well as coverage area, office locations, program criteria and application instructions can be found on the Restore Louisiana website.

    The interest-free loans range from $10,000 to $150,000, with 40 percent of the loan forgiven if qualified borrowers comply with all program requirements.

    The loans can be used for working capital—such as rent, mortgage, utilities, non-owner employee wages and inventory—as well as for furniture and movable equipment. Construction-related expenses are not eligible. For more information, call (225) 219-7824.

    Representatives from the Restore Louisiana Small Business program will be available at upcoming outreach events for the Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program, where representatives will answer questions and accept applications. Due to the recent winter weather, some outreach events have been rescheduled. Please note the new dates:

    • Feb. 5 – East Baton Rouge Parish Library/ Greenwell Springs Road Regional Branch from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
    • Feb. 6 – Livingston Parish Library/ Denham Springs-Walker Branch from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
    • Feb. 7 – East Baton Rouge Parish Library/ Baker Branch from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

    Flood-impacted small business owners are also encouraged to contact a local office of the Louisiana Small Business Development Center for technical assistance services. These centers can provide free one-on-one consulting, financial management guidance, business plan development, long-term recovery and sustainability plans, financial projecting and disaster preparedness planning. Click here for a list of locations and contact information.

    Read more »
  • ,

    Gov. Edwards declares State of Emergency, Crisis Action Team activated Wednesday due to freezing weather

    Gov. John Bel Edwards issued an Emergency Declaration Wednesday, Jan. 17, due to the freezing precipitation and low temperatures throughout Louisiana. The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, Dept. of Transportation and Development and other state agencies have been activated in response to this emergency.

    “The weather conditions are extremely dangerous, and while it may be tempting to venture outside, it is critical that everyone stay off the frozen highways and streets and heed all state and local warnings in order to be safe,” said Edwards. “Parts of all major interstates in Louisiana have closed because of the icy conditions and unfortunately, one life has already been claimed by this extreme weather. Our state Crisis Action Team and DOTD have been working around the clock responding to emergencies, salting roadways and providing resources to those who need assistance. Until the freezing temperatures lift, I urge everyone to take the necessary precautions, remember to check on people, pets and pipes, and stay warm and remain patient.”

    DTsog0tX4AEnRF0.jpg-large

    The winter weather has caused major road closures throughout the state. DOTD began salting and pre-treating roads in northern districts on Monday evening and Tuesday morning in the southern districts and continues those operations. Continue monitoring www.511La.org for updates on roadways and other important information.

    “The disruption and danger of extreme weather conditions like we are experiencing cannot be underestimated” said Dr. Shawn Wilson, DOTD Secretary. “In addition to major closings of interstates across Louisiana, we have seen hundreds of vehicle accidents, including 18 wheeler accidents and even a death. Drivers should heed our call to stay put until the all clear is issued.”

    DOTD facts:

    • 1,204 employees have been deployed for 24 hour operations.
    • 134,600 hits to www.511La.org (which typically gets 2,500 hit per day).
    • 1.5 Million pounds of salt have been used on roadways statewide.
    • 25 Dump trucks.
    • 236 trucks with spreaders/sprayers.
    • 5 airports have been closed.

    GOHSEP activated its Crisis Action Team on Tuesday. The State Fire Marshall’s Office reminds everyone to use caution when operating space heaters or any other heating source in their homes. When using any type of heating source, whether it is a space heater or fireplace, homeowners should incorporate a “three-foot rule,” where there should be a space of at least three feet between a heating source and any combustibles such as furniture and décor. Ovens or open flame sources, such as candles, should never be used to heat homes.

    Click here to read the Emergency Declaration.

    Read more »
  • ,

    Edwards launches criminal justice reform video series ahead of Nov. 1 implementation

    As part of his campaign to educate the public on the Criminal Justice Reinvestment Initiative legislation going into effect on Nov. 1 of this year, Gov. John Bel Edwards has released three videos featuring community leaders who were active in passing the historic legislation. They elaborate on the necessity of criminal justice reform in Louisiana,  the reduced cost to taxpayers and the increased safety that will result from this reform for communities across the state.

    “We know from experience a broken justice system leads to more crime, more families torn apart and higher costs for hardworking taxpayers each year,” Gov. Edwards said. “Stakeholders from both sides of the aisle put their differences aside and found common ground to build comprehensive, bipartisan criminal justice reform. We made a decision to build a system that works better for everyone in Louisiana by looking at data-driven evidence, not anecdotes and misleading fear tactics.”

    The first video features Speaker Pro Temp Walt Leger (D-New Orleans), a former prosecutor and author of HB 489, one of the ten bills included in the criminal justice reinvestment package of legislation. Click here to watch Rep. Leger’s video.

    The second video released highlights the Rev. Gene Mills, president of the Louisiana Family Forum and member of the Louisiana Justice Reinvestment Taskforce. Click here to watch Rev. Mills’ video.

    The third video includes Natalie LaBorde from the Department of Corrections, the state agency charged with overseeing implementation of the reforms. Click here to watch LaBorde’s video.

    A new video highlighting the importance of the criminal justice reform legislation will be released each day leading up to the Nov. 1 implementation date.

    Click here to learn more about criminal justice reform.

    Read more »
  • ,

    Three amendments on Oct. ballot; five candidates vie for city court seat

    The Oct. 14 election is shaping up to be full of candidates for state treasurer and city court judge as well as constitutional amendemnts for voters to decide statewide.

    Five candidates have qualified for the state treasurer’s seat. They are: former Commissioner of Administration Angele Davis, a Republican from Baton Rouge; Derrick Edwards, a Democrat from Harvey; Joseph D. Little, a Libertarian from Ponchatoula; Sen. Neil Riser, a Republican from Columbia; and former Rep. John Schroder, a Republican from Covington
    However, in Baton Rouge, lawyers Whitney Higginbotham Greene, Chris Hester, Carson Marcantel, Johnell Matthews, Janice Miller, and Judy Moore Vendetto are vying for the City Court Division E seat vacated by retired Judge Suzan Ponder. Greene, Hester, Marcantel, and Vendetto are Republicans. Matthews and Miller are Democrats.

    Greene, the daughter of state 1st Circuit Court of Appeal Judge Toni Higginbotham and sister of 19th Judicial District Judge Beau Higginbotham. Hester is the son of former 19th Judicial District Judge Bob Hester. Greene is an assistant state attorney general and Hester is a prosecutor in the East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney’s Office. Both are currently on leave for the duration of the campaign. Division E is a subdistrict in south Baton Rouge.
    There are three constitutional amendments voters will consider. One would ban property tax assessments from being applied to construction work materials.

    The second constitutional amendment creates a property tax exemption for the home of a wife or husband who lost their spouse in the line of public service. The third would dedicate the cash generated from any prospective increase in gas taxes to a special construction fund, said Jeremy Alford with LAPolitics Weekly.

    “These proposals represent the most concrete ways lawmakers and voters can put ideas into the law. As such, they deserve your attention and, your votes,” he said.

    Read more »
  • ,

    Edwards makes more appointments to boards, commissions

    Gov. John Bel Edwards announced his appointments to several Louisiana boards and commissions

    Louisiana Military Advisory Council
    The Louisiana Military Advisory Council serves to provide a forum for issues concerning the installations and units of the armed forces located in Louisiana and the military and retired military personnel and their families who reside in Louisiana.

    Joel R. Whitehead, of Madisonville, was appointed to the Louisiana Military Advisory Council. Whitehead is the President and CEO of J. Whitehead & Associates, Inc., and is a retired Rear Admiral Upper Half of the United States Coast Guard.

     

    Board of Supervisors of Community and Technical Colleges
    The Board of Supervisors of Community and Technical Colleges serves as the management board for Louisiana’s public 2-year institutions. Its mission is to improve the quality of life of the State’s citizens through education programs offered through its colleges.

    Tari T. Bradford, of Shreveport, was appointed to the Board of Supervisors of Community and Technical Colleges. Bradford is the Executive Assistant for Governmental Affairs for the City of Shreveport and will serve as a representative of the 4th Congressional District.

     

    Parish Boards of Election Supervisors
    The purpose of the board in each parish is to oversee and supervise all elections within the parish to ensure the safety and accuracy of the democratic process. The Board of Election Supervisors oversees the preparation and conducting of each election in the parish. Each parish’s board is composed of the parish’s registrar of voters, the parish’s clerk of court, the chairman of the parish executive committee of each recognized political party, and one member appointed by the governor.

    Jesse L. Toney Jr., of St. Francisville, was appointed to the West Feliciana Parish Board of Election Supervisors. Toney is retired and is a veteran of the Louisiana National Guard.

    Joanna C. Leopold, of Belle Chasse, was appointed to the Plaquemines Parish Board of Election Supervisors. Leopold is retired.

     

    Louisiana Fire Prevention Board of Review
    The Fire Prevention Board of Review was established to evaluate alternatives to fire prevention or protection laws and regulations established by the fire marshal when a request of review is properly submitted. The Fire Prevention Board of Review does not have the power to waive fire prevention and protection requirements but determines whether the suggested alternative provides equivalent or better protection within the context of the intent of the law.

    Jay Charles Smith, of Pearl River, was reappointed to the Louisiana Fire Prevention Board of Review. Smith is a registered engineer and Vice President of Crescent Technology, Inc. He will serve as a registered engineer on the board.

    Bruce E. Cutrer, of Amite, was reappointed to the Louisiana Fire Prevention Board of Review. Cutrer is the Fire Chief of Tangipahoa Parish Fire District Number 1. He will serve as a chief of a fire department on the board.

    Jeffrey K. Smith, of Hammond, was reappointed to the Louisiana Fire Prevention Board of Review. Smith is a registered architect and a principal of Holly & Smith Architects. He will serve as a registered architect on the board.

     

    Louisiana Board for Hearing Aid Dealers
    The Louisiana Board for Hearing Aid Dealers is responsible for protecting the public welfare by overseeing those persons rendering or offering to render services for the sale, maintenance, and repair of any type of hearing aid device and for examining and licensing hearing aid dealers in the state.

    Bryan K. Stinson, of Gretna, was appointed to the Louisiana Board for Hearing Aid Dealers. Stinson is a hearing aid specialist with Advanced Hearing Aid Center, Inc. As required by statute, he was nominated by the Louisiana Society of Hearing Aid Specialists and will serve as a representative of Hearing Aid Dealer District I.

     

    Louisiana State Board of Practical Nurse Examiners
    The Louisiana State Board of Practical Nurse Examiners prescribes minimum curricula and standards for practical nurses, examines and licenses qualified applicants, accredits practical nurse schools and courses, and conducts hearings upon charges calling for discipline of a licensee.

    Myron L. “Myra” Collins, of Baton Rouge, was reappointed to the Louisiana State Board of Practical Nurse Examiners. Collins is a licensed practical nurse and the Director of Business Development at CareSouth Medical and Dental.

     

    Workers’ Compensation Advisory Council
    The Workers’ Compensation Advisory Council is responsible for monitoring and reporting to the governor and the legislature on the implementation and administration of laws pertaining to the administration of workers’ compensation claims and making specific recommendations thereon.

    Michael D. Morris, of Baton Rouge, was reappointed to the Workers’ Compensation Advisory Council. Morris is an attorney and the Chief Executive Officer of the Louisiana Home Builders’ Association. He will serve as a representative of self-insured industries in Louisiana, as required by statute.

     

    Ascension-St. James Airport and Transportation Authority
    The Ascension-St. James Airport and Transportation Authority is a public corporation and is authorized to perform in its corporate capacity all acts necessary and proper for the purpose of acquiring, constructing, maintaining, and operating Louisiana Regional Airport.

    Rydell J. Malancon Sr., of St. James, was appointed to the Ascension-St. James Airport and Transportation Authority. Malancon is an equipment officer with St. James Government and a former NFL player. As required by statute, he was nominated by a legislator representing Ascension or St. James Parish and will serve as an at-large member.

    Kevin F. Landry, of Gonzales, was appointed to the Ascension-St. James Airport and Transportation Authority. Landry is the Aviation Manager of Dow Chemical. As required by statute, he was nominated by a legislator representing Ascension or St. James Parish and will serve as an at-large member.

     

    Medicaid Pharmaceutical & Therapeutics Committee
    The Medicaid Pharmaceutical & Therapeutics Committee is responsible for developing and maintaining a preferred drug list (PDL) in conjunction with a prior approval process relating to the Medicaid drug program.

    Mohammad Suleman, M.D. of Kenner, was reappointed to the Medicaid Pharmaceutical & Therapeutics Committee. Suleman is a licensed physician in private practice. As required by statute, he was nominated by the Louisiana State Medical Society.

     

    Red River Waterway Commission
    The Red River Waterway Commission was created for the purpose of establishing, operating, and maintaining the Red River Waterway, a navigable waterway system, extending from the vicinity of the confluence of Red River with Old River and the Atchafalaya River northwestward in the Red River Valley to the state boundary.

    Randell A. Fletcher, of Colfax, was reappointed to the Red River Waterway Commission. Fletcher is retired and previously served as the Grant Parish Assessor. As required by statute, he was nominated by the Grant Parish Police Jury.

    Michael B. Simpson, of Coushatta, was reappointed to the Red River Waterway Commission. Simpson is a self-employed farmer. As required by statute, he was nominated by the Red River Valley Association and will serve as a representative of Red River Parish.

     

    Louisiana State Board of Dentistry
    The mission of the Louisiana State Board of Dentistry is to protect the public by regulating the professions of dentistry and dental hygiene in Louisiana in accordance with the Dental Practice Act.

    Glenn E. Appleton, D.D.S., of Baton Rouge, was appointed to the Louisiana State Board of Dentistry. Appleton is a dentist and the owner of Appleton Family Dentistry. He is a veteran of the United States Navy Dental Corps. As required by statute, he was nominated by and will serve as a representative of the 8th Dental Board District.

     

    Drug Policy Board
    The Drug Policy Board is responsible for identifying, examining, selecting, or developing, and recommending or implementing drug control policies to more effectively combat illegal drug and alcohol abuse. The board evaluates how anti-drug monies are used in implementing related programs. It also identifies and evaluates the effectiveness of public awareness and drug prevention programs.

    A. Kenison Roy, M.D., of Metairie, was reappointed to the Drug Policy Board. Roy is a physician and the owner/medical director of Addiction Recovery Resources, Inc. He will serve as a representative of a private organization involved in substance abuse prevention.

     

    Louisiana Geographic Information Systems Council
    The Louisiana Geographic Information Systems Council (LGISC) was created by the state Legislature to eliminate duplication of effort and unnecessary redundancy in data collections and systems and to provide for integration of geographically-related data bases to facilitate the policy and planning purposes of the state of Louisiana.

    Lynn E. Dupont, of New Orleans, was reappointed to the Louisiana Geographic Information Systems Council. Dupont is the Principal Planner/GIS Coordinator of the Regional Planning Commission for Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. John the Baptist, St. Tammany, and Tangipahoa Parishes. As required by statute, she was nominated by the Louisiana Association of Planning & Development Districts.

     

    Louisiana State Board of Massage Therapy
    The Louisiana Board of Massage Therapy is responsible for the licensure, registration, investigation, and regulation of persons practicing as massage therapists within the state. The board may establish continuing education requirements for massage therapists.

    Robin R. Alexander, of Shreveport, was reappointed to the Louisiana State Board of Massage Therapy. Alexander is a licensed massage therapist and an instructor at Blue Cliff College.

     

    Atchafalaya Basin Levee District
    The Atchafalaya Basin Levee District provides levee maintenance for the parishes of Ascension, Assumption, Iberia, Iberville, Pointe Coupee, St. Landry, St. Martin, and West Baton Rouge.

    Spencer T. Harvey, of Donaldsonville, was appointed to the Atchafalaya Basin Levee District. Harvey is the Public Works Director for the City of Donaldsonville and will serve as a representative of Ascension Parish. As required by statute, he was nominated by a legislator representing Ascension Parish.

     

    Louisiana Tax Free Shopping Commission
    The Louisiana Tax Free Shopping Commission administers the international tourism promotion program which offers the incentive of sales tax refunds to foreign visitors on purchases made at participating merchants in an effort to induce increased shopping and tourism within the state.

    Caitlin L. Cain, of New Orleans, was appointed to the Louisiana Tax Free Shopping Commission. Cain is the Chief Executive Officer of the World Trade Center New Orleans.

     

    Advisory Committee on Polysomnography
    The Advisory Committee on Polysomnography assists the Board of Medical Examiners in providing the minimum standards for polysomnography; approving the licensure examination; licensing of applicants; conducting administrative hearings on the denial, suspension, revocation, or refusal to renew a license; and the adoption of rules and regulations in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act for the purpose of administering the Polysomnography Practice Act.

    Christine Soileau, of Lafayette, was reappointed to the Advisory Committee on Polysomnography. Soileau is a licensed polysomnographic technologist and the Administrative Director of Our Lady of Lourdes Sleep Disorders Clinic. As required by statute, she was nominated by the Louisiana Academy of Sleep Medicine and will serve as a licensed polysomnographic technologist on the committee.

    Wade S. Young, of Gonzales, was appointed to the Advisory Committee on Polysomnography. Young is a licensed polysomnographic technologist with Premier Sleep Medicine Center. As required by statute, he was nominated by the Louisiana Academy of Sleep Medicine and will serve as a licensed polysomnographic technologist on the committee.

    John K. Schwab, M.D., of Baton Rouge, was appointed to the Advisory Committee on Polysomnography. Schwab is a physician and the Medical Director of the Louisiana Sleep Foundation, LLC. As required by statute, he was nominated by the Louisiana State Medical Society and will serve as a physician who is a diplomat of the American Board of Sleep Medicine on the committee.

    Joshua D. Johnson, of West Monroe, was appointed to the Advisory Committee on Polysomnography. Johnson is a licensed polysomnographic technologist and Clinical Coordinator of Neurology at Glenwood Regional Medical Center. As required by statute, he was nominated by the Louisiana Academy of Sleep Medicine and will serve as a licensed polysomnographic technologist on the committee.

     

    Louisiana Medical Advisory Board
    The Louisiana Medical Advisory Board assists the Office of Motor Vehicles in determining if a driver has any visual ability or physical condition, impairment, or disability which may impair his or her ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.

    James D. Sandefur, O.D., of Oakdale, was reappointed to the Louisiana Medical Advisory Board. Sandefur is an optometrist and the Executive Director of the Optometry Association of Louisiana. He will serve as an optometrist on the board.

    Reinhold Munker, M.D., of Shreveport, was appointed to the Louisiana Medical Advisory Board. Munker is a physician and Professor of Medicine for Tulane University. He will serve as an internist on the board.

    Gary J. Avallone, O.D., of West Monroe, was appointed to the Louisiana Medical Advisory Board. Avallone is an optometrist with Vision Center. He will serve as an optometrist on the board.

     

    Louisiana Shrimp Task Force
    The Louisiana Shrimp Task Force studies and monitors the shrimp industry and makes recommendations to the state regarding same.

    Steven Sode, of Buras, was appointed to the Louisiana Shrimp Task Force. Sode is a commercial fisherman and will serve as such on the task force.

     

    Clinical Laboratory Personnel Committee
    The Clinical Laboratory Personnel Committee serves to make recommendations to the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners regarding rules and regulations for the appropriate training and competency of clinical laboratory personnel who are engaged in the practice of clinical laboratory science in a clinical laboratory operated by a physician licensed by the board exclusively in connection with the diagnosis and treatment of his own patients.

    Cheryl R. Caskey, of Shreveport, was reappointed to the Clinical Laboratory Personnel Committee. Caskey is a licensed clinical laboratory scientist-generalist and a compliance officer with Pathology Resource Network. As required by statute, she was nominated by the Louisiana Society for Clinical Laboratory Science and the Clinical Laboratory Personnel Association and will serve as a clinical laboratory scientist-generalist who has been employed in a supervisory or administrative capacity on the committee.

    Lawrence A. “Larry” Broussard, Ph.D., of Prairieville, was appointed to the Clinical Laboratory Personnel Committee. Broussard is a licensed clinical laboratory scientist-specialist and the President of Larry Broussard Toxicology and Clinical Laboratory Consultant. As required by statute, he was nominated by the Louisiana Society for Clinical Laboratory Science and will serve as a clinical laboratory scientist-specialist on the committee.

    George H. Roberts, Ed.D., of West Monroe, was reappointed to the Clinical Laboratory Personnel Committee. Roberts is a licensed clinical laboratory scientist-generalist and adjunct Anatomy and Physiology Instructor with Louisiana Delta Community College. As required by statute, he was nominated by the Louisiana Society for Clinical Laboratory Science and will serve as a clinical laboratory scientist-generalist who has been actively engaged in clinical laboratory science education.

     

    Louisiana State Uniform Construction Code Council
    The primary function of the council is to review and adopt the state uniform construction code, provide training and education of code officials, and accept all requests for amendments of the code, except the Louisiana State Plumbing Code. Specifically, the council establishes the requirements and process for the certification and continuing education of code enforcement officers, code enforcement inspectors, third party providers and building officials and determines whether amendments to the state uniform construction code are justified.

    Heather A. Stefan, of Baton Rouge, was appointed to the Louisiana State Uniform Construction Code Council. Stefan is the Director of Baton Rouge Area Electrical JATC.

     

    Louisiana State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors
    The Louisiana State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors regulates embalmer/funeral directors, funeral directors, funeral establishments, crematories, and retort operators. It also handles consumer complaints. In addition, the board prescribes requirements for funeral homes and crematories engaged in the care and disposition of dead human remains.

    S.J. “Bubba” Brasseaux, of Lake Charles, was reappointed to the Louisiana State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors. Brasseaux is a licensed funeral director and embalmer and the Director of Support for Carriage Services. He will serve as a representative of District C on the Board.

    South Tangipahoa Parish Port Commission
    The South Tangipahoa Parish Port Commission operates Port Manchac in Tangipahoa Parish. The Commission’s operations include transportation, storage, shipping of products, and leasing of warehouses and docks.

    William F. Joubert, of Hammond, was reappointed to the South Tangipahoa Parish Port Commission. Joubert is the Director of the Louisiana Small Business Development Center at Southeastern Louisiana University. As required by statute, he was nominated by the Senator representing District 11.

     

    Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists
    The Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists is responsible for licensure and regulation of psychologists within the state.

    Leah J. Crouch, Psy.D., of New Orleans, was appointed to the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists. Crouch is a clinical psychologist and the owner of River Bends Psychology. As required by statute, she was chosen from a list of names submitted by the Louisiana Psychological Association.

     

    Louisiana Rehabilitation Council
    The Louisiana Rehabilitation Council’s duties include reviewing, analyzing, and advising the Louisiana Rehabilitation Services within the Louisiana Workforce Commission regarding the performance of its responsibilities relating to eligibility, extent, scope, and effectiveness of services provided. The Council also reviews functions performed by state agencies that affect or that potentially affect the ability of individuals with disabilities in achieving employment.

    Virginia Gay Young, of New Orleans, was appointed to the Louisiana Rehabilitation Council. Young is a Project Development Manager with Lighthouse Louisiana. She will serve as an individual with a disability on the council.

    Tarj L. Hamilton, of Baton Rouge, was appointed to the Louisiana Rehabilitation Council. Hamilton is a licensed real estate agent and the owner of Clear2Close Realty, LLC. She will serve as an individual with a disability on the council.

    Glyn F. Butler, of Baker, was appointed to the Louisiana Rehabilitation Council. Butler is a Client Advocate with the Advocacy Center and will serve as a representative of the Client Assistance Program on the council.

     

    Capital Area Human Services District
    The Capital Area Human Services District directs the operation and management of community-based programs and services relative to public health, mental health, developmental disabilities, and substance abuse services for the parishes of Ascension, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Iberville, Pointe Coupee, West Baton Rouge, and West Feliciana.

    Amy P. Betts, of St. Francisville, was reappointed to the Capital Area Human Services District. Betts is the Chief Executive Officer of Bettlam Global Solutions and a former Supervisor of Special Education for the West Feliciana Parish School system. As required by statute, she was nominated by the West Feliciana Parish Council.

     

    Advisory Committee on Polysomnography
    The Advisory Committee on Polysomnography assists the Board of Medical Examiners in providing the minimum standards for polysomnography; approving the licensure examination; licensing of applicants; conducting administrative hearings on the denial, suspension, revocation, or refusal to renew a license; and the adoption of rules and regulations in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act for the purpose of administering the Polysomnography Practice Act.

    Judson A. Willard, of Roxie, Mississippi, was appointed to the Advisory Committee on Polysomnography. Willard is the Baton Rouge/Mississippi Territory Manager for ResMed. As required by statute, he was nominated by the Louisiana Academy of Sleep Medicine and will serve as a non-licensed member who is active in field of sleep medicine.

    Melissa A. Boutte, of Lafayette, was appointed to the Advisory Committee on Polysomnography. Boutte is a licensed polysomnographic technologist and the Director of the LeBean Sleep Center. As required by statute, she was nominated by the Louisiana Academy of Sleep Medicine and will serve as a licensed polysomnographic technologist on the committee.

     

    Louisiana Emergency Response Network Board
    The Louisiana Emergency Response Network Board serves to defend the public health, safety and welfare by protecting the people of the State of Louisiana against unnecessary deaths and morbidity due to trauma and time-sensitive illness.

    Karen O. Wyble, of Arnaudville, was appointed to the Louisiana Emergency Response Network Board. Wyble is the Chief Executive Officer of St. Martin Hospital. As required by statute, she was nominated by the Rural Hospital Coalition to serve as a representative of hospitals with fewer than sixty beds.

     

    Louisiana Children’s Trust Fund Board
    The Louisiana Children’s Trust Fund Board provides funds for non-profit and public agencies throughout the state for the prevention of child abuse and neglect.

    Franchesca L. Hamilton-Acker, of Lafayette, was appointed to the Louisiana Children’s Trust Fund Board. Hamilton-Acker is the Senior Attorney of Acadiana Legal Service Corporation. As required by statute, she was nominated by the Louisiana State Bar Association.

     

    Louisiana Emergency Response Commission
    The Louisiana Emergency Response Commission (LERC) coordinates and supervises implementation of the federal hazardous materials Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act within Louisiana. The LERC develops, coordinates, and leads the state emergency management program, enabling effective preparation for, response to, and recovery from emergencies and disasters in order to save lives, reduce human suffering, and minimize property loss.

    Kenneth “Scott” Bowman, of Zachary, was appointed to the Louisiana Emergency Response Commission. Bowman is a sergeant with and the Explosives Unit Commander of the Baton Rouge Police Department.

     

    Iberia Parish Levee, Hurricane, and Conservation District
    The Iberia Parish Levee, Hurricane, and Conservation District serves to understand the dynamics of flood protection and tidal surge needs specific to Iberia Parish in order to implement a plan for such protection in conjunction with neighboring parishes. The board also determines and identifies funding sources to implement said plan.

    James Stein, of New Iberia, was reappointed to the Iberia Parish Levee, Hurricane, and Conservation District. Stein is the owner of Iberia Aggregates. He was nominated by and will serve as a representative of the Iberia Parish Council, as required by statute.

    Patrick Broussard, of New Iberia, was reappointed to the Iberia Parish, Levee, Hurricane, and Conservation District. Broussard is the owner of Broussard Manufacturing Consulting. He was nominated by and will serve as a representative of the Iberia Parish Council, as required by statute.

     

    Louisiana State Interagency Coordinating Council for EarlySteps
    The Louisiana State Interagency Coordinating Council for EarlySteps serves to advise and assist the Lead Agency in the performance of its responsibilities, particularly in regard to: (a) identification of the sources of fiscal and other support for early intervention services; (b) assignment of financial responsibility to the appropriate agency; and (c) promotion of interagency agreements. The Council also advises and assists the Lead Agency in the preparation of applications, the transition of infants and toddlers to preschool or other appropriate services at age three, and the preparation and submission of an annual report to the Governor and to appropriate federal authorities on the Status of EarlySteps.

    Charles M. “Mike” Billings, of Baton Rouge, was appointed to the Louisiana State Interagency Coordinating Council for EarlySteps. Billings is a Program Specialist with Transportation Security Administration. He will serve as a parent of a child with a disability on the council.

    Michelle S. Roberie, of Kenner, was appointed to the Louisiana State Interagency Coordinating Council for EarlySteps. Roberie is a caregiver and will serve as a parent of a child with a disability on the council.

    Ascension-St. James Airport and Transportation Authority
    The Ascension-St. James Airport and Transportation Authority is a public corporation and is authorized to perform in its corporate capacity all acts necessary and proper for the purpose of acquiring, constructing, maintaining, and operating Louisiana Regional Airport.

    Jeffrey L. Gaudin, of Gonzales, was appointed to the Ascension-St. James Airport and Transportation Authority. Gaudin is the owner of JGSG Holding Company. As required by statute, he was nominated by a legislator representing Ascension Parish and will serve as representative of Ascension Parish.

     

    Read more »
  • ,

    Trump Approves Louisiana Emergency Declaration

    President Donald J. Trump declared that an emergency exists in the State of Louisiana and ordered Federal assistance to supplement State, tribal, and local response efforts due to the emergency conditions resulting from Tropical Storm Harvey beginning on August 27, 2017, and continuing.

    This action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts.  This action will help alleviate the hardship and suffering that the emergency has inflicted on the local population, and provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in the parishes of Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, Jefferson Davis, and Vermillion.

    Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency.  Emergency protective measures, including direct Federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent Federal funding.

    Brock Long, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named William J. Doran III as the Federal Coordinating Officer for Federal recovery operations in the affected areas.

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Licensing law changes for Louisiana contractors

    According to the Louisiana Home Builders Association, HB 675, now Act 231 of the 2017 Regular Legislative Session makes several changes to the Contractors’ Licensing Law. Act 231 will go into effect Tuesday, August 1st 2017.

    Licensed residential contractors shall provide in writing:
    1. Name
    2. Contracting license number
    3. Classification
    4. Current insurance certificates evidencing the amount of liability
    insurance maintained and proof of workers’ compensation coverage

    Registered home improvement contractors shall provide in writing:
    1. Name
    2. Registration number
    3. Current insurance certificates evidencing the amount of liability
    insurance maintained and proof of workers’ compensation coverage

    This information shall be provided to the party with whom the contractor has
    contracted to perform contracting services, regardless of whether such information is requested by the contracting party for whom the work is to be performed.

    Also, licensed residential contractors and registered home improvement contractors shall produce to the permitting authority evidence of a license or registration in good standing prior to the issuance of any permit required by law. Click here to read the act in its entirety

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Louisiana has one of the highest rates of child gun deaths

    In March, 10-year-old Justin Simms and six-year-old Jumyrin Smith were discovered dead alongside their mother Monique Smith in New Orleans after a quadruple shooting rocked their Gentilly neighborhood. A third child, 12-year-old daughter A’Miya, was left in critical condition.

    In August 2016, five-year-old Melvin Brady was accidentally shot and killed in Marrero, marking the third time a child had died in metro New Orleans in such an incident that year, according to reports.

    And in 2015, Lake Charles resident Casey Mercer made headlines when he was arrested after his three-year-old daughter Alexis found a loaded gun he had left on the couch. She died after she shot the firearm straight through her eyelid, reports said.

    Unfortunately, such tragedies are hardly rare in Louisiana. A study published in June by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that the Pelican State had the second-highest rate of child firearm mortality in the country.

    During a five-year period from 2010 to 2014, there were an average of 4.2 children up to the age of 17 killed by gun deaths in the state for every 100,000 kids, the study found.

    The study didn’t examine data specifically in the metro New Orleans area. But data collected by NOLA.com in a murder timeline for 2017 shows that so far this year, seven children up to the age of 17 had been killed in the city, out of a total of 92 murders so far.

    That means about one in every five murdered this year has been a child, and that doesn’t even count other accidental shootings involving children.

    Throughout the nation, an average of 1,297 children die annually from injuries caused by firearms, making guns the second-leading cause of death for children in America, the study found. They were the second leading cause of injury-related death for people under the age of 17, surpassed only by motor vehicle injury deaths.

    Another 5,790 children on average seek emergency room treatment for gun-related injuries each year in the United States, the report found. About 21 percent of those injuries are unintentional.

    The authors of the report urged better preventative measures through policy, local law enforcement and institutions such as schools.

    “Firearm injuries are an important public health problem, contributing substantially to premature death and disability of children,” the authors wrote. “Understanding their nature and impact is a first step toward prevention.”

    Before the study came out, firearm-related deaths had already been determined to be the third-leading cause of death overall among American children aged one to 17 years and the second-leading cause of injury-related death.

    The new comprehensive analysis of firearm-related deaths and injuries among American children delved further into that statistic, examining trends over time and state-level patterns.

    The report also found trends regarding the ages of the victims.

    Firearm homicides of younger children often occurred in instances where there were multiple victims, the study found, and involved an intimate partner or family conflict, whereas older kids were found to be dying because of crime and violence.

    Firearm suicides were often precipitated by situational and relationship problems, according to the research.

    Unintentional shooting deaths usually happened because the child was playing with a gun, and that was true for older and younger children, the report found.

    Boys accounted for a whopping 82 percent of all child firearm deaths, the report found. The annual rate of firearm death for boys from 2012 to 2014 was 4.5 times higher than the annual rate for girls.

    African-American children were found to have the highest rates of firearm mortality overall, with more than four per 100,000 becoming a victim.

    The disparity came from differences between racial and ethnic groups in firearm homicide, the report found. From 2012 to 2014, the annual firearm homicide rate for African-American children was nearly twice as high as the rate for American-Indian children, four times higher than the rate for Hispanic children and about 10 times higher than the rate for white children and Asian-American children.

    Unintentional firearm deaths usually happened because children were playing with guns, the report found. That was the case with 60 percent of firearm-related deaths among younger children and 49 percent among older kids.

    Older children more often died because they were showing a gun to others and/or mistakenly thought the gun was unloaded or the safety was engaged, the authors found.

    A gun was mistaken for a toy in 16 percent of younger children’s deaths. The majority of both younger and older children were fatally injured in a home.

    Authors said if there was a common takeaway from all these incidents it was this: violence, especially seen against and by children, is interconnected from incident to incident.

    “Firearm violence does not stand in isolation when developing preventive interventions,” the authors wrote.

    By Della Hasselle
    Louisiana Weekly reporter
    New America Media

    Read more »
  • ,,

    EBRP Schools’ Michelle Clayton moves to online K-12 charter

    University View Academy Superintendent Lonnie Luce announced the appointment of Michelle Clayton, former deputy superintendent of East Baton Rouge Parish School System, as the new associate superintendent of innovation and interim K-8 principal for the online K-12 charter school.

    Clayton graduated of LSU and earned a Ph.D. from Southern University and A&M College. The former teacher also served as executive director of academics for the Zachary Community School District.

    Luce said Clayton is now part of his dream team of educators to lead University View Academy into being a K-12 charter school in which every student in every parish of the state has the opportunity to gain a quality public education from day one to graduation, and earn two years towards a college degree by graduation time if they so desire.

    She will direct implementation of the school’s new curriculum as K-8 Principal and assist the Superintendent with comprehensive data analysis and planning so that the staff and students unite to achieve greater academic performance in all subjects.

    Mandy LaCrete

    Mandy LaCrete

    Recently, the school added Mandy LaCerte from Baton Rouge Community College as its director of early college and workforce development to manage the school’s growing two-year associate’s degree program. LaCrete was also a founding board member of Apex Collegiate Academy in North Baton Rouge. Shana Corers was named interim high school principal.University View Academy starts the 2017-2018 school year as an independently managed statewide charter school, after being affiliated with Connections Education of Baltimore for six years.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Legislators send multiple bills to Gov. Edwards to signs, vetoes

    Gov. John Bel Edwards announced that he signed several bills into law and vetoed a number of bills either entirely or partially using his line-item veto authority.The following bills were signed into law:

    ACT 365 – HB 20:  Provides relative to exemptions from the requirements for school instructional time under certain circumstances

    ACT 366 – HB 33: Provides relative to legislative staff attendance at executive sessions of the boards of trustees of state and statewide retirement systems

    ACT 367 – HB 211: Provides relative to business filings with the secretary of state

    ACT 368 – HB 304: Expands definition of “racketeering activity” to include armed robbery and armed robbery or attempted armed robbery committed with a firearm

    ACT 369 – HB 341: Amends laws relative to behavioral health and mental health to provide for current practice and appropriate terminology

    ACT 370 – HB 395: Amends the procedures for involuntary mental health treatment

    ACT 371 – HB 423: Authorizes the secretary of the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality to establish and administer a water quality trading program

    ACT 372 – HB 450: Provides relative to the Upper Audubon Security District in Orleans Parish

    ACT 373 – HB 483: Provides relative to disclosure of data maintained by the Louisiana Tumor Registry and for a cancer investigation initiative

    ACT 374 – SB 1: Renames the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts as the Jimmy D. Long, Sr. Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts.

    ACT 375 – SB 25:  Sunsets the individual income tax education credit.

    ACT 376 – SB 54: Provides relative to exploited children.

    ACT 377 – SB 95: Changes the rebate for donations to certain school tuition organizations to a nonrefundable income tax credit.

    ACT 378 – SB 97:  Provides relative to the sales and use tax exemption for feed, seed, and fertilizer used by commercial farmers.

    ACT 379 – SB 102: Creates and provides for Louisiana Educational Workforce Training Fund to provide opportunities for educational training in the Louisiana Community and Technical College System.

    ACT 380 – SB 117: Requires certain insurance producers to maintain professional liability insurance

    ACT 381 – SB 121: Provides relative to terminology of court-ordered and other mandatory examinations in civil and administrative matters and claims.

    ACT 382 – SB 148: Creates the Waterway Dredging and Deepening Priorty Program.

    ACT 383 – SB 170:  Provides relative to the use of student assessment data for school accountability purposes for the 2016-17 school year for parishes in declared disaster areas.

    ACT 384 – SB 177:  Provides relative to the Motion Picture Tax Credit Program for the withholding of income tax for performance of services on a state-certified production.

    ACT 385 – SB 182: Provides for the tax credit for ad valorem taxes paid on inventory by taxpayers included in one consolidated federal income tax return.

    ACT 386 – SB 183: Provides termination dates for certain tax incentive and rebate programs.

    ACT 387 – SB 187: Provides for establishment of a pilot evidence-based budget proposal process for mental health programs administered by the Louisiana Department of Health.

    ACT 388 – SB 189: Provides for ethical standards for public servants.

     

    Edwards vetoed the following bills for various reasons. Click each bill number to read the corresponding veto letter.

    HB 598 was amended in a fashion that would prevent the Department of Transportation and Development from meeting the infrastructure needs of the state.

    HB 269 would be unnecessary and overly burdensome to Louisiana colleges and universities as the freedoms this bill attempts to protect are already well-established by the bedrock principles declared in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article 1, Section 7 of the Louisiana Constitution.

    HB 568 would create legal inconsistency among civil and criminal penalties incurred in the case of a violation of authorized uses of student information collected.

    HB 132 would create overly burdensome red tape in administrative reporting to the Joint Legislative Committee on the budget where current practice is sufficiently transparent and responsive.

    Edwards line-item vetoed portions of HB 1, which passed during the 2017 Second Special Session. Click here to read the veto letter.

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    LETTER: Ask legislators for more health centers in schools

    Dear Citizens:

    Did you know that there are 63 School-Based Health Centers in 27 parishes in Louisiana? They are medical offices in a school, staffed by physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses and licensed behavioral health professionals. School-based health centers keep children in school by providing medical and mental health care on campuses. More than 70,000 students have access to health care through these centers. There are many benefits including reducing absenteeism and tardiness, reduction in hospital emergency care, the prevention of suicide and depression, and keeping children in school so that they can graduate. We know that 96 percent of students treated in a center RETURN to class.

    We need more school-based health centers in our schools and in more parishes throughout Louisiana. Yet, today the funding for existing School Based Health Centers is in danger due to state budget cuts to healthcare.

    As the president of the Louisiana School-Based Health Alliance and a health professional, I have spent countless hours working with partners across the state to get MORE health centers in our schools. Why? Because they keep students in school and parents at work. They provide Louisiana children with acute care for minor illnesses and injuries, prescriptions for medications, immunizations, diagnosis and treatment of chronic diseases and mental health services. Parents must give permission for their children to be treated.

    Please ask your legislator to fight for School-Based Health Center funding. It’s for children and parents. I encourage you to contact your legislator today and ask him or her to restore funding for School-Based Health Centers.
    Louisiana School-Based Health Alliance

    Tabitha J. Washington, MHA
    President

    Read more »
  • ,,

    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

    Read more »
  • ,,,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
  • ,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
  • ,

    Globalstar Career Fair scheduled for April 7

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    The Roosevelt seeks the most deserving mom for giveaway

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

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

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

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

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

    ONLINE: www.waldorfastoria.com/theroosevelt

    Read more »
  • ,

    New app helps flooded homeowners with title problems

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
  • ,

    FEMA releases Louisiana recovery numbers

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

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

    Individuals and Housing Program (IHP)

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

    Rental Assistance

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

    Home Repair Assistance

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

    Public Assistance (PA)

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

    Transitional Sheltering Assistance

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

    Department of Agriculture

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

    National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)

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

    Small Business Administration (SBA)

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

    Manufactured Housing Units (MHUs)

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

    Total projection for MHU installation is 4,502.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    COMMENTARY: Special session, what it brings

    I had the good fortunate of being a part of the Together Louisiana that was invited to set in the balcony and hear firsthand the (Governor John Bel Edwards’) speech as he opened the special session on Sunday, Feb. 14. We were of course in the House of Representatives and watched as they talked with each other hugged and seemed glad to be there. I watched the new legislators including the one from my hometown as they tried to figure out just what to do and who to engage with. It was amazing how many of them are seated close together. Finally the speaker opened the house and had read into the minutes certain pieces of information that no one on the floor paid any attention to, I guess because it was only formality. Then the speaker sent a group of four to announce to the senate that the house had convened and he sent a group of four to announce to the governor that the house had convened. It became evident that the senate had done the same thing because a group of four came and announced that the senate had convened.

    Finally at five the governor arrived with the members from the senate and house as part of his escort team. The colors were presented and an excellent rendition of the Stars Spangled Banner was sung a Capella by a member of the staff.

    The governor began his speech, now it seems as if he has presented in my opinion a bleak state of affairs for Louisiana. He also presented his proposals for alleviating the deficit. His plan does include cutting (160 million) and of course raising additional revenue.

    On my way to the capital, I was walking behind a lady carrying a sign and of course I asked her what the sign was for and she said it had to do with the waivers parents had gotten for disabled children that Governor Edwards wanted to do away with. Then she made the off comment, I wish he had not gotten elected. She set in the balcony where our group set and I wondered if after she heard the speech if she still felt the same. I hope not. It became perfectly clear to me that we have had so many tricks over the last eight years to balance the budget that now the time has come to really reckon with the deficit. No one wants a tax increase, but as I look at the situation I can live with the one cent. I can also live with the tobacco and alcohol taxes especially if they bring in enough revenue to fix the budget.

    I remember last year when the past administration talked about the tax credit for college students and how that credit that brought in no dollars would balance the budget and how the presidents of all the universities with Ph.D. degrees would go along with that particular smoke and mirror screen. I understand the politics of the agreement, because I know the governor could have put pressure on the various boards to get rid of those presidents who did not agree, but for the life of me I still don’t understand how they felt that the universities would have any additional revenue, even an illiterate person could see through that disaster.
    I watched as the governor made his speech who clapped and of course who did not. It was amazing to watch especially the elected state level officials setting behind the podium and there lack of applause. It was also amazing to watch the members of the legislature as some and an awful lot of them chose to not clap even when he mentioned the couple who needed health insurance and had them stand. It was amazing to also watch when the mother of a disabled child stood who had a wavier for her child and who needed the help. I took note of those I knew who were so inclined to dismiss the governor’s plan to balance the budget.

    Now here is where it is interesting, after his speech, one legislator said he cut 160 million that is not meeting us half way, what he did not offer was his solution, just criticism. The governor asked for help and for other options. It also baffled me that one of the great opponents of the Jindal mess was the state treasure who now thinks that we don’t need additional revenue. He must know some of us remember when he was the biggest critic of the Jindal smoke and mirrors.

    So, I wrote before that I caught the breeze of change, after Gov. Edwards’ speech, I am willing to do whatever the governor needs to balance this great mess we are in and hope the legislators will remember they are elected by the people to do what the people want and that the people elected John Bel Edwards overwhelmingly.

    By Linda M. Johnson
    Plaquemine, LA

    Linda Johnson is a former Louisiana BESE representative.

    Read more »
  • ,

    St. Tammany Parish Government awarded excellence in financial reporting

    The St. Tammany Parish Department of Finance was awarded the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada, for the 12th consecutive year. This is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting. The comprehensive annual financial report, or CAFR, is evaluated every year and the award is given based on standards reached in the report. These include, demonstrating a constructive “spirit of full disclosure” to clearly communicate its financial story, and motivate potential users and user groups to read the CAFR.

    Leslie Long, director of finance, Laura Reine Lyons, senior accounting manager, and Annie Perkins, assistant director of finance are the recipients named on the award.

    “This award is validation for St. Tammany Parish Government, as well as the taxpayers of our Parish, that we continue to exercise best practices when investing tax dollars,” said Pat Brister, St. Tammany Parish President. “We once again applaud our finance department for their impeccable record-keeping and for their work as a cohesive team.”

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Louisiana’s new SCLC president announces 7-point plan for social justice

    Charles Steele Jr., president of the National Southern Christian Leadership Conference announced the official return of the historic civil rights organization to Louisiana on January 4 in New Orleans.

    Louisiana has met all of the requirements to have its charter reinstated under the leadership of the Rev. Reginald Pitcher who the organizing state chair and Baton Rouge Chapter president.

    Steele, national and state officers, and SCLC members met at New Zion Baptist Church in New Orleans. The church is the historic site where the national organization–established by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr–began more than 60 years ago. of the beginnings of SCLC.

    During the ceremony, Pitcher shared this seven Point Plan for Social Justice through Nonviolent Direct Action:

    1. We will continue to embrace the doctrine of the beloved community. We will work to bring about the creation of a truly multi-racial, multicultural democracy, where individual human rights are protected and the dignity and worth of human personality is respected.
    2. We reject the doctrine of modern-day lynching. We will continue to combat and resist the vigilante actions of rouge police officers who continue to commit hate crimes on the streets of our cities by murdering unarmed black and poor people without fear of retribution. We will also continue to address the black on black murders that cannibalizes our communities
      and deprives them of vital human resources through the school-to-prison pipeline.
    3. We reject the doctrine of unequal justice. We will continue to protest against the racial disparities that impose harsher and unequal penalties on Black and poor people on a routine basis in the court systems throughout this state. And until this system is changed, we will continue to embrace the age old cry of “No Justice, No Peace!”
    4. We reject the doctrine of the new Plessey vs. Ferguson. We will continue to fight against the hypocritical opportunists both black and white, who are bent on the destruction of Public Education, who under the guise of Charter Schools have raped and pillaged public school systems throughout this state.
    5. We reject the doctrine of the New Jim Crow. We will continue to resist any attempt to abuse the 13th Amendment as it relates to the school-to-prison pipeline and the mass incarceration of Black and poor people in this state. We will actively lobby our legislature to design and implement alternatives to incarceration, especially as it relates to our youth.
    6. We reject the doctrine of guilty until proven innocent. We will continue to resist any attempt to violate the 14th Amendment and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as it relates to due process under the law. We are tired of our people being arrested, charged, tried and executed on the streets of our cities throughout this nation. They are being lynched by those who have been commissioned to protect and to serve. This practice has got to stop and it’s got to stop now, not tomorrow, not next week, not next month, not next year, but now!
    7. We reject the doctrine of No Vote, No Voice. We will continue to resist any attempt to water down or violate the 15th Amendment and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as it relates to voter nullification and voter suppression. We will continue to organize our people through voter education, registration and participation drives, and we will continue to aid and assist Black and poor people in understanding and utilizing the power of the vote.
    Read more »
  • ,,

    Louisiana to reinstate SCLC charter

    Charles Steele Jr., president of the National Southern Christian Leadership
    Conference, announced the official return of the historic civil rights organization to Louisiana.

    Under the leadership of the Reverend Reginald Pitcher, Louisiana has met all of the requirements to have its charter reinstated.

    Steele, officers, members and friends will mark the return of the SCLC with 11 am, Jan. 5, 2016, at New Zion Baptist Church, 2319 Third St, New Orleans, LA 70113, where C.S. Gordon, Jr. is pastor.

    Sixty years ago in the same church, Dr. Martin Luther King Jrl, Rev. T.J. Jemison, and attorney Israel Augustine of New Orleans signed documents to incorporate the organization.

    Elected officials and state leaders of many civic, social, and religious organizations, including the National Baptist Convention, the NAACP, National Urban League, Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus, MICAH, Nation of Islam, the AFL-CIO and more, are expected to be in attendance.

    ONLINE: www.sclcnational.org

    Read more »
  • ,

    Keep Louisiana Beautiful asks, “Do You Know an Everyday Hero?”

    Anti-Litter Organization Opens Nominations for Awards Honoring Exceptional Community Leaders

    Keep Louisiana Beautiful (KLB) invites each Louisiana resident to “Be an Everyday Hero” by presenting seven awards honoring groups and individuals whose exemplary efforts, large and small, help to keep our state beautiful. The organization will honor the winners with the distinction of “Everyday Hero” at KLB’s state conference awards banquet in Lafayette, Louisiana, on Oct. 1, 2015.

    Nonprofits, KLB affiliates, businesses, professional groups, governmental agencies, civic and community organizations, schools, churches and individuals are eligible to be nominated, and nominations are open to the public. To nominate a deserving Everyday Hero, visit: keeplouisianabeautiful.org for the application and instructions.

    Everyday Hero Awards will be presented in the following categories:

    • Alice Foster Award – An individual volunteer with exceptional leadership in litter prevention, waste reduction, recycling and beautification.
    • Golden Can Award – A public servant who displays a deep commitment to KLB’s mission in their daily work by going above and beyond the call of duty.
    • Most Innovative Program – A successful beautification, litter prevention or waste reduction program led by a school,
    • civic group, nonprofit or KLB affiliate.
    • Youth Award – A student or youth-led group that displays creative thinking, demonstrates effective leadership, engages peer participation and makes a significant impact on their community.
    • Outstanding Affiliate – A KLB affiliate that shows fortitude, leadership, creative, diverse programming and community engagement.
    • Outstanding Affiliate Director – A KLB affiliate director who demonstrates exceptional dedication to KLB’s mission and leadership in building a strong and sustainable organization.
    • Corporate Leadership Award – A business that exhibits a consistent dedication to KLB’s mission, environmental stewardship and community enrichment.

    KLB’ s 12th annual state conference will be held Oct. 1-2 at the Lafayette Science Museum and marks the yearly culmination of the most up-to-date information on the impact of litter and expert resources for state beautification. The first night of the conference will feature the awards dinner, with special guest speaker Marcus Eriksen, co-founder of 5Gyres. KLB encourages affiliates, teachers, partners, volunteers, community leaders, state agency representatives, and parish and city officials to register now to secure their spot at the 2015 annual conference. To register or learn more, visit www.keeplouisianabeautiful.org .

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Chief Justice Johnson declares May 1 as Law Day

    The Louisiana Supreme Court issued a resolution urging all Louisiana state court judges to dedicate the month of May 2015 to reaching out to schools to provide students with an opportunity to learn about the law, the role of judges, and the court system from members of the judiciary. Law Day was established in 1958 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to strengthen our heritage of liberty, justice and equality under the law. In 1961, Congress issued a joint resolution designating May 1 as the official date for celebrating Law Day. Every president since then has issued a Law Day proclamation on May 1st to celebrate the nation’s commitment to the rule of law. The 2015 national Law Day theme is “Magna Carta: Symbol of Freedom Under Law.”

    “During the month of May, the Louisiana Supreme Court will host school students participating in Law Day activities including: mock trials and tours of the Royal Street courthouse which include visits to the Louisiana Supreme Court Museum and the Law Library of Louisiana,” said Chief Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson.

    On this 57th anniversary of Law Day, the resolution states in part that “all judges have a unique ability to educate young people about our legal system and respect for the law.” Teachers or principals interested in coordinating a Louisiana Supreme Court tour or a Law Day presentation with a local judge, contact the Louisiana Supreme Court Community Relations Department at 504.310.2590.

    Read more »
  • ,

    Turner takes 3rd at state science fair

    Tyler Turner

    Tyler Turner

    Lake Forest Charter School 8th grade student Tyler Turner won 3rd place at the Louisiana Science and Engineering Fair in the environmental science category. Tyler’s project was titled “Alternative Roofs” and studied the most cost effective and energy efficient ways of roofing. His results found that grass covered roofs absorbed less energy than tile and wood. The fair was held March 23-25 in the LSU Union.

    Read more »
  • ,

    FEMA says ‘Get ready now for potential severe weather’

    People living in parts of Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas are urged to get ready now for potential severe weather that could strike over the next few days in the form of possible severe thunderstorms, hail, strong winds, flash flooding, tornadoes and wildfires.

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Region 6 office continues to monitor the situation and stands ready to support state and local partners as needed and requested in any affected areas.

    “We encourage people to keep listening to their local and state officials for updated instructions and information. The safety of people is the first priority,” said FEMA Region 6 Administrator Tony Robinson. “We encourage people to have an individual or family emergency plan in place, practice that plan and put together an emergency kit.”

    Become familiar with the terms used to identify a severe weather hazard including:
    Watch: Meteorologists are monitoring an area or region for the formation of a specific type of threat (e.g. flooding, severe thunderstorms, or tornadoes); and
    Warning: Specific life and property threatening conditions are occurring and imminent. Take appropriate safety precautions. www.getagameplan.org. The Get a Game Plan App is available for download to your smart phones or tablets.
    .
    More tools and resources are available online to help prepare for, respond to and recover from any type of disaster. Visit www.Ready.gov.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Prefiled bill seeks to require DHH to provide health care coverage for La residents

    State Senator Ben Nevers of Bogalusa, has prefiled Senate Bill 40 for the upcoming legislative session.

    The health care bill would require the Louisiana  Department of Health and Hospitals to provide health care coverage with essential health benefits to every legal Louisiana resident whose household income is at or below 138% of the federal poverty level.

    The legislative session begins Monday, April 13 in Baton Rouge. SB40 will be heard in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee. Follow this bill at La Leg Website: http://www.legis.la.gov/legis/BillInfo.aspx?i=226625

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Forum to detail voter suppression in Louisiana

    Louisiana Progress will present a public forum, “Jim Crow Tactics: Voting and Not Voting in Louisiana,” moderated by Jim Engster, 7pm,  Thursday, October 23, at the LSU African American Cultural Center.

    This forum on voter suppression in Louisiana will feature panelists Chris Tyson, associate professor of law at LSU Law Center;  Roland Mitchell, associate professor of higher education at LSU; Alfreda Tillman Bester, General Counsel for NAACP Louisiana; and State Representative Patricia Haynes Smith.

    The panelists will discuss their expert opinions regarding the effect of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby v. Holder, gerrymandering in Louisiana, and how the legacies of race discrimination in voting continue to have consequences for Louisiana today.

    RSVP Online: https://m.facebook.com/messages/read/?tid=mid.1413898987749%3A5f7b0a61b56eb3bb49&soft=notifications

    Read more »
  • ,

    Summit on the Plight of the African American Male starts Oct. 17

    NEW ORLEANS - While Post-Katrina New Orleans has experienced tremendous progress and some quality of life improvements, Pastor Tom Watson, organizer of the 20th Annual Citywide Summit on the African American Male, argues “that there still exists the ‘tale of two cities’ when juxtaposed with the harsh realities of African American males living in New Orleans.”  Fifty-two percent of New Orleans African American men are unemployed; disproportionate numbers of Black men and boys are still being incarcerated in mass numbers; NOPD continues overuse of serious force or racial profiling (noted in the Consent Decree) and, nationally, a recurring trend of unarmed Black men being murdered by police could make New Orleans ripe to become the next Ferguson, Missouri.
         
    Former Mayor Marc Morial is the summit’s speaker. The summit is free and open to the public, as it is intended to elevate a participatory solution-based dialogue addressing these issues with community residents and a distinguished panel of local experts/stakeholders including: Dr. Walter Kimbrough, president of Dillard University; Dr. Patrice Sams-Abiodun,executive director of the Lindy Boggs National Center for Community Literacy at Loyola University and co-author of Recognizing the Underutilized Economic Potential of Black Men in New Orleans; Jason Williams, New Orleans Councilman At-Large; and Kenneth Polite, U.S. Attorney will weigh-in on the state of Black men and boys in this city. The summit is free and open to the public.  WWL-TV Anchor Sally Ann Roberts will moderate.

    2014 Conference Events-Sponsored by Watson Memorial Teaching Ministries & The Family Center of Hope

    Stopping Murders-Rap Sessions & Workshops for 300 school-age males
                    Friday, 9:00 a.m.- Noon
                                            
    Restoring Men-20th Annual Summit– National Urban League’s Marc Morial
        Friday, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm


    Healing Mothers–Helping Mothers Heal Conference
                     Saturday, 9:00 a.m.- 4:00 pm


    Helping Mothers Heal-From Interruption to Intervention


    As an outgrowth of the 2012 Conference on The African American Male, Helping Mother’s Heal was born as an intervention to aid mothers and families victimized by the murder of their sons. Due to the overwhelming outcry for help, this year’s conference will feature a new convening for victim’s mothers and their families. Mothers will address law enforcement and justice system officials and share with them their grief from these egregious crimes and a persistent, lingering source of their pain, the fact that their loved ones murders remain unsolved. District Attorney Leon Cannizaro, Crimestoppers Darlene Costanza, Juvenile Judge Ernestine Gray and Police Chief Michael Harrison have agreed to take part in the conference. Rev. Patricia Watson, founder, states “our purpose is to turn these mothers’ pain into purpose.” Registration for the conference is $35. To register, call 504.891.3264 or visit www.fchnola.com.

    “These two very important convenings are about bringing community residents together to have a voice,” said  Pastor Tom Watson.  “We cannot wait for top-down government solutions to the issues related to violence that affect us-hence, the conference attempts to explore and influence better outcomes and greater accountability for prevention and intervention.”
     

    Read more »
  • Planting love for Mom

    MORE THAN 10,000 MOTHERS IN the Baton Rouge area received a Mothers Day gift that will keep on giving, thanks to
    Rotolo Pizza’s “Homegrown Love for Mom” program. The pizzeria collected cups to give to elementary school students
    throughout Baton Rouge–like the ones pictured from Dufroq Elementary– who prepared tomato plants for their mothers. The program encourages recycling, teaches students basic gardening techniques, and encourages healthy eating. “Programs such as Homegrown Love for Mom provide us with the opportunity to give back to the community, share our passion for pizza, and give hard-working moms a gift they can share with their families,” said Mitch Rotolo, founder and CEO of Rotolo’s Pizzeria.

    Read more »
  • St. George could affect city budget

    A RECENT REPORT BY THE Better Together Campaign discovered that the proposed city of St. George would have a large economic impact on East Baton Rouge’s City- Parish budget.

    The Better Together Campaign is a grassroots effort of citizens who believe the best way to solve our problems is not by separating.

    The report found that if incorporated, the city would have twice the population of Baker, Zachary and Central

    combined and greatly impact the parish’s city- parish budget.

    If incorporated, sales tax revenue would be diverted from the East Baton Rouge – City Parish to St. George. The tax would come from places such as Perkins Rowe, L’Auberge Casino and the Siegen Lane Market Place.

    The East Baton Rouge- City Parish budget is an estimated $282 million and the incorporation of St. George could take away $85 million from the city-parish budget. The s incorporation of the proposed city would create a 20% deficit for EBR. The city of Detroit suffered a 12.5% deficit before it went bankrupt.

    Proponents for St. George claim the deficit would only be $14 million annually instead of $53 million.

    The only way to close the gap would be tax increases and service. According to the research, a large bulk of the service cuts would be made to police and fire departments.

    The Better Together Campaign began with residents who live in the proposed breakaway area of southeast Baton Rouge, but now includes residents across the city-parish, who are opposed to the proposal to incorporate the southeast part of our city- parish as a separate city.

     

    By Cameron James

    The Drum City News Manager

    Read more »
  • Bogalusa’s Caitlyn Price lands ‘Wild ‘n Out’ tv show

     BOGALOUSA- THE TALENTS of a young comedic actress from Bogalusa were recently on display during The CeCe Show, Wild ’n Out Edition at Bogalusa High School.

    Four-year-old Caitlyn Christian Amari Price, bet- ter known to her fans as CeCe, has been performing since she was three. Her mother, Daphne Watson said she got started with comedic videos, including improv and celebrity impersonations, more than a year and a half ago. Watson said she does most of the writing and CeCe acts the skits out. The comedic actress has gained notice through social media. One of her Instagram posts recently caught the attention of Spanky Haynes, star of Nick Cannon’s MTV show “Wild ’n Out.”

    Haynes signed CeCe to an artist development deal with his company, 5 Foot Giant Productions, and im- mediately began prepro- duction on “The New CeCe Show.” The live sketch comedy show starring CeCe and Haynes is set to debut online this spring.

    Watson said her daugh- ter has also appeared in commercials for different companies. Diamond Gladney, CEO of the Gladney Man- agement Group, sid she sees CeCe as the next big thing in entertainment.

    A pre-K student at Denhamtown Elementary, CeCe has an older sister, Cameron, 7, and a broth- er, 11-year-old Jalen. She enjoys playing with her friends and singing and dancing to Beyonce, and she likes the color pink and making people laugh.

    Since CeCe’s comedy career began, the family has traveled to various events in New Orleans, Washington, D.C. and other places.

     

    BY LACY PARKER

    THE DAILY NEWS 

    Read more »
  • Anala Beevers, 5, certified genius

    NEW ORLEANS native Anala Beevers possesses an IQ over 145 at just five years old. Her natural genius helped her learn the alphabet at just four months old.

    When she was born I’d say the ABC’s to her and she would mouth along with me,” said Anala’s mother Sabrina Beevers. ” Then by 10 months old she could identify and point to each letter when I’d say it  before she could even talk.”

    By 18 months Anala was reciting numbers in both Spanish and English. By her fifth birthday – which she celebrated this month—she could recite the name of every North American state on the map, plus every capital. Recent YouTube clips show Anala also naming the capitals of countries worldwide.

    “We finally had to look at her and ask ‘Is this normal for a baby to do?’” said her father Landon Beevers.

    When the Beevers finally put Anala together with other kids, the couple could really tell their daughter was strikingly different. So this year Anala Beevers skipped pre-K and was enrolled directly into Kindergarten at the Marrero Academy for Advanced Studies in Jefferson Parish.

    “They do have advanced study classes there,” Landon said. “Her current school is not challenging enough for her; their resources are limited. We don’t know what we’ll do next for her, school-wise. At home though, we are doing everything we can to maximize her potential. Anything she wants to explore we put it out there for her.”

    Though he has joked that his daughter needs a reality show, Landon said he’s turned down “The Today Show” and “Good Morning America” to keep his little one’s life as simple as possible.

    Anala has nonetheless been written about extensively. In 2013, Landon told People magazine that his daughter’s smarts make her harder to deal with. Anala has publicly claimed she’s smarter than her parents (they publicly agreed) and even corrects their grammar.

    “She’s more aware, her mind works faster, and she doesn’t just take things at face value,” Landon said. “She’s always gonna look deeper into it, which means she does challenge us a lot. We talk to her and respond to her like she’s an adult, and we get in a debate with her and then realize we’re debating [with] a four-year-old! But the thing is, her arguments are valid juvenile but intelligent”

    “Like the other day,” her mother recalled, “she asked why blue soap makes white bubbles—things that never crossed our minds.”

    Beevers was recently invited to become one of 2,800 MENSA members under the age of 18 (the current youngest being two- years-old).

    The exclusive high-IQ club accepts only those who score at the 98th percentile on an IQ test – whereas young Anala Beevers placed in the 99th percentile range, putting her intelligence in the top one percent of all humanity.

    Her parents said Anala always has a new pursuit. The little genius is studying every book she can about volcanoes and astronomy; she can name planets and dinosaurs.

    “Though most recently now she’s on an artistic tip,” her father said. “She’s doing a lot of creative things right now. But it’s never just one thing. She’s a multi-tasker. Her mind never stops.”

    BY MICHAEL PATRICK

    WELCH LOUISIANA WEEKLY

     

    This article was originally published in the February 24, 2014 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper. 

    page4image31304

     

    Read more »
  • Louisiana ranks 10th ‘miserable’

    A RECENT SURVEY HAS RANKED Louisiana as the 10th most miserable state in the country.

    The rankings came from Gallup-Healthways’ recent well-being index. The index measures the emotional and physical health of Americans across the country.

    More than 176,000 people from all 50 states were interviewed last year.

    Some of the statics that determined Louisiana’s

    ranking were: 21% of residents said they did not have easy access to medicine and clean water and only 61.4% of residents felt safe walking home at night (one of the lowest in the country.

    West Virginia took the distinction for being the most miserable state in the union.

    Read more »
  • Rep wants marijuana legalized

     

    NO VOTE WAS TAKEN NOR bills up for debate when Louisiana legislators met to consider the idea of legalizing marijuana for medical use.

    The meeting of the House Committee on the Administration of Criminal Justice was intended as informational only. It was organized at the request of State Representative Dalton Honore to discuss how feasible legalizing medicinal marijuana could be for Louisiana.

    During the nearly four-hour long meeting, officials, law enforcement and the public passionately portrayed their sides of the debate on legalizing the drug.

    Honore, who is also a member of the Criminal Justice Committee, is in favor of a study that would consider the advantages and disadvantages of legalizing marijuana for medical purposes.

    Medical marijuana is available in 18 states. Louisiana legislators passed a law in 1991 that makes it legal for doctors to prescribe marijuana, but it’s against the law for patients to fill it.

    In a recent public policy poll, more than half of the people who live in Louisiana said they would support changing laws to regulate and tax the drug.

    According to NOLA.com out of the 1,372 Louisianans incarcerated on marijuana possession charges, more than 78 percent are Black with an average sentence is 8.4 years.

    State lawmakers are set to discuss reducing penalties for simple marijuana possession on March 10 during 2014 legislative session.

    Read more »
  • NAACP critical of Tangipahoa failing schools

    AMITE—Black leaders are highly critical of Tangipahoa Parish School Board in the direction in which the long running law suit against the board and the large amount
    of tax payer money is being wasted.
    Community leader and elective offi cial Iram Gordon of Kentwood expressed her feeling to the school board in a recent board meeting for the lack of support for the schools in Kentwood. Former Kentwood High principal Ann Smith who represents that area as a board member disagreed with Gordon

    Smith said,” I appreciate the board and Mr. Kolwe for what there are doing for the
    entire parish. The north end has not been left out.”

    School Board member Brett Duncan agreed with Smith, stating she led the effort to have a new $15 million O.W. Dillon Elementary School built, and millions of dollars for Kentwood High.

    Pat Morris President of Greater Tangipahoa Parish Branch NAACP (GTPBNAACP) field questions Tangipahoa Parish School Board on the state of schools in Tangipahoa Parish, because those who question what happening say are many times, calls go unanswered and not returned from many at schools and in the administration, she said.

    We are going to bring heavy, heavy pressure on our Superintendent,Assistant Superintendent and Chief Academic Officer.We renew our campaigner for a trained educator as superintendent.We emphasize it is not a race thing, it is about quality education. Our current superintendent cannot provide leadership as an educator. He is not one.This
    should now be obvious. His leadership is putting the Parish deeper in the hole in the desegregation case and the failure of schools to meet State standards cannot be ignored

    It is obvious, he does not have a plan and he doesn’t have the slightest clue as to what to do. St. Tammany has “A” rated schools, while Tangipahoa Parish is saturated with “D” and “F” rated schools. The (RSD) Recovery School District is right around the corner. They are taking over schools and turning them over to private charter school
    corporations from outside the state, removing control from the local school board and from local parents.

    RSD is not only giving the schools to these out of state private corporations, it is also giving these private corporations control of the property paid for with local tax dollars. The Parish cannot afford to keep the current superintendent in charge and had better get its local education house in order before it is too late. I promised those asking the questions, I would relay them tonight. Again, it is not personal, but it is about the business of education for all of our children that is at stake now:

    • Why are our school leaders saying that the Magnet Programs are working, when the majority of their student populations, namely Black students, are failing miserably according to standardized tests, which is the only reliable tool that parents have to
    hold schools accountable?

    • Is Mark Kolwe gong to treat Catherine Leblanc and Maureen Terese the same way he treated Marquita Jackson when considering the drastic declines performance?

    • Would we say that the “schools are great, and are working” if they were majority white and were failing (White kids in overwhelming numbers scoring below-profi cient on
    standardized tests?

    • Do not kids need to score a certain mark on the “standardized” ACT Exam to beeligible to attend a university in good standing?

    • Do not we want Black kids to be able to score well on standardized exams so that they can go to college?

    Ladies and gentlemen of the Board, the GTPB NAACP feels that these are legitimate questions that deserve answers, and should no longer be ignored. This is not about personal agendas, nor vendettas. It is about the future of every child in this school system. We can do better. We MUST do better.

    Read more »
  • School voucher apps accepted

    LOUISIANA FAMILIES CAN NOW begin to enroll in the voucher program for the 2014-15 school year.

    The Louisiana Scholarship Program empowers low-income families with the same opportunity as more affluent parents already have – the financial resources to send their child to the school of their choice.

    The application period is open until February 28. Parents can enroll at the vochure school or online at www.doe.louisiana.gov.

    Last year, more than 12,000 students across the state applied for the scholarships. According to  the state Department of Education, 136 schools are participating in the voucher program this year.

    Private and parochial schools have one year to make a difference.

     

    Read more »
  • Burges says Baker audit positions city for financial ‘cleanup’

     

    By Leslie D. Rose

    The Drum Assistant Managing Editor

    Baker City Councilwoman Joyce Burges, District 3, said she doesn’t want citizens of Baker to be overly concerned with what may seem to be broken financially within the city.

    Her comments came after the city’s 2012-2013 annual audit’s findings caused the Louisiana Legislative Auditor to issue a “disclaimer of an opinion”.

    A disclaimer of opinion means the financial status could not be determined because of an absence of appropriate financial records, according to KJ Henderson of Demand Media.

    Because Baker is required by the home rule charter to appoint an auditor each fiscal year, the Baker City Council voted last year to hire a new auditor and remove Mary Sue Stages who served as auditor for nearly 50 years.

    Members of the council said then that fresh eyes needed to be on the city’s finances. Posterwaite and Netterville Firm was chosen to audit the city’s finances for the 2012-2013 fiscal year end which lead to the disclaimer.

    Burges said the findings provide an opportunity for the city to rebuild and improve on its financial picture. “We are positioning ourselves, as a city, to clean up the financial damages…this is an opportunity to rebuild and improve our financial statement and financial records,” she said.

    She continued to say that the process of rebuilding the city to good financial standings will take some time because the financial deficiencies are grave.

    Legislative auditor Joy Irwin said she will be available for comment once her report is published within the next three weeks. A brief summary of the audit will be available at the Baker City Council meeting, Tuesday, Jan. 28, at 6pm.

     

    Read more »
  • ,

    Leaders to be Honored with Martin Luther King jr. Leadership Award

    Nine community leaders will be recognized at The Baton Rouge MLK Leadership Awards, Monday, Jan. 20, 2014, at the Baton Rouge Marriott, at 7pm. These community leaders mirror the image, character, life, and works of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The 2014 award recipients are: JOHN G. DANIEL, executive director, Girls Hope and Boys Hope; GREG WILLIAMS JR., founding artistic director, New Venture Theatre; WENDELL JAMES, HIV/AIDS counselor,  Bernard Taylor Jr., East Baton Rouge Parish School Board Superintendent; JASON GARDNER, owner, Vivid Images Graphics and Printing; MICHAEL W. MCCLANAHAN, NAACP President; KEITH RICHARD,pastor,  Elevate Church; JARVIS BROWN, CEO Executive; TONYA G. ROBERTSON, executive director,The Young Leaders Academy.

     

     

    Read more »
  • The Louisiana Sweet Potato Commission to host Sweet Rewards Contest

    The search for delicious sweet potato recipes is back and better than ever.  The Louisiana Sweet Potato Commission, along with Louisiana Cookin’ Magazine, is hosting its 10th annual Sweet Rewards Recipe Contest for fresh, frozen and canned sweet potatoes.

    All chefs are invited to enter their original recipes in the professional category. Recipes should include fresh, frozen or canned yams. There is no entry fee or limit of entries per individual. The contest organizers hope to show sweet potatoes’ versatility in a wide range of dishes.

    The contest will kick off January 1 with final entries being due June 1, 2014. One overall grand prize winner will be awarded $1,000. Additional winners from each of the categories will receive $500.

    Finalists’ recipes will be prepared by culinary students from the Louisiana Culinary Institute in Baton Rouge, which will also serve as the new location for the contest. A respected panel of food-industry professionals will judge recipes based on overall flavor, texture, visual appeal and creativity.

    In addition to the Louisiana Sweet Potato Commission and Louisiana Cooking Magazine, Bruce Foods and Alexia Foods will sponsor the 10th annual Sweet Rewards contest.

    The 2013 Sweet Rewards contest grand prize was awarded to Harvey Morris of Chicago, Illinois for his “Sweet Potato Bacon Biscuits.”

    Winners’ names and recipes are featured in Louisiana Cookin’ Magazine’s November and December issue, as well as on their website.

     

    Read more »
  • ,

    Afrikan-Centered School Opens in New Orleans

    Parents and organizers gathered in front of George Washington Carver Preparatory Academy in New Orleans at the official announcement of Liberation Academy, “an Afrikan-centered public high school”.  Students recently walked off the Carver campus in protest of the school’s disciplinary policies.  Liberation Academy founder Samori Camara, Ph.D., said the academy is a homeschooling cooperative for high school students that gives parents a free, public school alternative. Classes began January 6, 2014, at the St. James AME Church on North Derbigny

    Read more »
  • Judge Rules in Favor of Inmates

    A FEDERAL JUDGE HAS RULEDTHAT conditions on death row at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola are,in fact, too hot in warm weather and constitute cruel and unusual punishment.The ruling means prison leaders at Angola will have to devise a way to cool cells and keep temperatures less than 89 degrees. This is the result of a lawsuit fi led by three death row inmates who com-plained of dangerously hot conditions.  Three con-demned inmates fi led a lawsuit last summer claiming the death row conditions were unsafe. A spokesperson for the Department of Corrections said the state plans to appeal the ruling

    Read more »
  • ,

    ‘Gift of Christmas’ Giveaway Benefits More Than 200 Families

    The true meaning of Christmas resounded loudly, Monday, December 16 at the Interdenominational Faith Assembly Church, during State Representative Regina Ashford Barrow’s 8th annual “District 29 – The Gift of Christmas Giveaway, wheremore than 275 children and their parents stood wide-eyed with excitement awaiting the arrival of Santa. This years’ giveaway was held in honor of Trevor Sims, the young boy who passed away in October of cancer, who even through his sickness made it his last dying wish to feed the hungry in the area.

    Trevor’s mother, Allison Sims, was also honored and presented with a commendation from the Louisiana House of Representatives for Trevor’s life’s work. “It amazes me that everyone is so touched by Trevor’s legacy, and his heart for people,” said Allison Sims. “That’s the way he lived his life and that’s who he was; he was selfless and thinking of others so it’s always like a reminder of him to see other people help each other.”

    Representative Barrow said, “There’s no doubt that Trevor lived a life that represented a true spirit of giving. It meant so much to me to honor him and his last wish, in giving to others in need.” U.S. Senator Landrieu also acknowledged Trevor’s contribution by letter and the Metro Council recently re-named a bridge in his honor.93

    Of the 300 toys on hand, the night concluded with more than 275 kids receiving a gift. The additional 25 toys were distributed to a local women’s shelter and various families that called in for assistance.Over 87 different families were present and more than 400 people in attendance received a wonderful meal.
    “The love and generosity among families, friends and neighbors here is what the spirit of Christmas is all about. I look across the room at the smiles on these children’s faces and feel humbled that because I have been elected to serve the 29th District, I can make the holidays a little brighter for the children and their families,” said Barrow. “Every child deserves to have a Merry Christmas, so this event is one way to ensure that needy children have a gift to open this holiday season.”

    111In an outpouring of seasonal generosity, individuals and organizations in the community donated financial resources and new toys in the weeks leading up to this holiday event. These sponsors were: Glen Oaks Security Dads;  Interdenominational Faith Assembly,  who hosted the event; Alejandro Perkins, Esq.; Coca Cola; Table is Bread;  Wal-Mart;  Albertsons;  Young Educated Males Against Drugs and Violence;  AFL-CIO;  and the Redevelopment Authority.

    Several exhibitors were also on hand to provide valuable information to participants. They were: Volunteers of America; Metro Health; BREC;  Anna Jones of State Farms Insurance;  Angels of Empowerment; and Family Roads of Greater Baton Rouge.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Meet the Doc McStuffins of Hammond, Zachary, Baton Rouge and Monroe

    In 2001 Disney introduced the world to The Proud Family, a cartoon centered on an African American family; headed by Oscar, a snack manufacturer and Trudy, a veterinarian. During the show’s air, two African American women from Louisiana were working towards becoming veterinarians. Something they said they never dreamed of, mostly because of its lack of representation in the black community, especially in Louisiana.

    Fast forward to 2012, and Disney once again brings us an inspirational show for black girls with Doc McStuffins. The series, which is in its second season, shows a brown cartoon girl playing make-believe veterinarian, operating on her stuffed animals. The show is wildly popular and has lots of girls desiring to become veterinarians.

    Now reality, Louisiana, which is the 25th most populous state of the union, is home to only six black, female veterinarians. All of the women completed her undergraduate studies at Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge and received her D.V.M. from the School of Veterinarian Medicine at Tuskegee University in Alabama. Three of the women are practicing veterinarians, one of them is in academia and two of them work for the government.

    An avid fan of Doc McStuffins and veterinarian hopeful, nine-year-old Samiya J. Phillips said she has been interested in treating animals since she was three. She said she learns from the cartoon, but wishes she could go on field trips and ask real life vets questions and see more women working as vets.future mcstuf

    “I think there should be more girls that take care of animals, because you really have to have caring heart , Phillips said. “Maybe there should be more schools to teach you more about being a veterinarian and field trips [so I can] ask a lot of questions on how they take care of animals and what kind of tools [are used] for animals.”

    Renita Woods Marshall, D.V.M. has been an associate professor of animal science at SUBR and the SU Ag Center resident veterinarian for six years. She said she always knew she wanted to become a doctor, but never dreamed she’d be a veterinarian, or a professor. Marshall, who grew up in rural Pelican, said she has always been around animals and agriculture. She decided to bring her degree home to work so she could help build the future of veterinarians in Louisiana, in particularly to inspire girls like Phillips.

    “I could have gone anywhere, but I decided to come back here and work in academia, and I look at as somebody made the sacrifice for me; somebody was teaching me, so I felt like I could come back and give to the next generation that’s coming in behind me,” Marshall said. “I’m so proud because two of my students are in veterinarian school right now and I have another one that’s getting ready to go next year. It makes me feel good to see that I’m training them up.”mcstuf1

    Marshall said she encourages her students to come back to Louisiana upon graduating from veterinarian school, in hopes of increasing the number of black, female veterinarians in this state. Two of her three vet school students are black females.

    “They’ve [former students] thought about coming back and they’re all from Louisiana,” Marshall said. “They’ve been in vet school for a couple of weeks and one of the courses is introduction to veterinarian medicine, and that’s exposing them to all the different fields that go along with it. And, a lot of them are like ‘you know, I may end up working at a university’ and I say ‘see, you just never know!’”

    Another one of Louisiana’s Doc McStuffins is Tyra Davis. Davis is from New Iberia and grew up around farms. While she said she never planned to become a veterinarian, she said she believes strongly in the phrase bloom where you are planted. She has now been a medical director and veterinarian at Hammond Animal Hospital and Pet Lodge for ten years.

    mcstuff 2

    “I grew up in a rural area and my family was sugarcane farmers so I spent a lot of time on the farm, but never did I have the desire to become a vet because I never saw a black veterinarian,” Davis said.

    Upon graduating from high school with a very high GPA, Davis was offered a scholarship to attend SUBR. When choosing a major, she was encouraged to pursue animal science and found that she enjoyed the classes. After a summer internship at the University of Missouri, she was sold on becoming a veterinarian. Now with the success of Doc McStuffins, she said she’s proud to see a show with the interest of inspiring young girls to start asking questions about the pursuit of careers in medicine.

    “When I grew up, I didn’t know any veterinarians who looked like me, let alone a woman veterinarian; I didn’t even have a woman pediatrician,” Davis said. “It just goes to show you how far we’ve come. It’s good for young girls in general, but especially African American girls to have a positive image and something to open the conversation about a profession, and especially about my profession.”

    Both Marshall and Davis agreed that it is important to encourage youth who are interested in becoming veterinarians and said they recommend Louisiana students look into undergraduate studies at LSU or SUBR because of the very hands-on approach offered. Both women also give lots back to their community through organizational memberships, speaking engagements and mentoring. They make it known how important they feel it to be for students to bring their degrees back home, as they, along with Tasha Thomas, Evoicia Collins, Leah LeBouf and Andrea Poole, the other Louisiana’s Doc McStuffins, look forward to the number of mcstuf 3black, female veterinarians in the state to increase.

    Read more »
  • Suit filed to Change District 2

    Three Louisianas are suing  the state in federal court, saying a panel of judges should redraw Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District because it unlawfully con-

    centrates black voters in one area and diminishes their political clout in the process. The suit was filed by Yvonne and Leslie Parms and Maytee Buckley, residents of the

    2nd District, on Nov. 25 in the Middle District Court in Baton Rouge. Christopher Whittington, a capital area lawyer and former head of the state Democratic Party, is

    acting as counsel for the plaintiffs. According to court documents, prenatal and parenting classes, links with local medical clinics, and information on adoptions and

    maternity homes.  The alliance provides information to pregnant women and women who think they may be pregnant between the ages of 18 to 30 and their

    male partners to ensure healthy full-term pregnancies, rather than abortions. It is funded by the Louisiana’s Department of Children and Family Services and administered by Family Values Resource Institute.

    ONLINE:

    www.laallianceforlife.com

     

    Read more »
  • Monroe preachers return city’s $10,000 donation

    MONROE—The city of Monroe gave a group of local preachers $10,000 to help sponsor the 2013 Louisiana Baptist State Convention which was housed in several local facilities with an opening musical at the Monroe Civic Center this summer.

    Last month, planners of the convention from the Northeast Louisiana 2013 Host Committee stood before the city council with a $10,000 check to return the contribution.

    The Reverend Van Brass, pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Rayville who chairs the committee, told the Monroe Free Press the event was so successful it contributed some $750,000 to the local economy. Brass said organizers were surprised when they had a significant surplus following the conference that they decided to “present back the money the city invested.”

    “Because you invested in us, we were successful,” Brass told the council.

    “I believe that this is the first event of its kind that money has been returned to the city,” said city council chairman Eddie Clark.

    Read more »
  • Solomon Northup’s Home Opens in Alexandria

    ALEXANDRIA—The home where Solomon Northup tells of his experiences in his 1853 book, Twelve Years a Slave, opened Thursday, Nov.14  as a museum at the Louisiana State University Alexandria.

    Northup built the house with slave owner Edwin Epps who purchased him in 1843 although Northup was a kidnapped freeman who would later be rescued and returned to his family in Glens Falls, New York.

    The single story Creole cottage, called the Epps House, was originally located on Bayou Boeuf near Holmesville in Avoyelles Parish.

    The State Historical Marker near the home reads, “Built in 1852 by Edwin Epps, originally located near Holmesville on Bayou Boeuf about three miles away. From 1843 to 1853, Epps, a small planter, owned Solomon Northup, author of famous slave narrative Twelve Years A Slave.”

    Relocated to Bunkie, LA in 1976, the house was moved to the LSUA campus in 1999 and reconstructed, thanks to the effort of Sue Eakin, Ph.D., a former LSUA professor of history.

    Northup’s story in the recently released movie “12 Years a Slave” may never have made it to the big screen if not for Louisiana historians Eakin and Joseph Logsdon. Their 1968 edition of the book was well-received and became required reading at universities across the country.

    Screen-writer John Ridley, told the New York Times he leaned heavily upon their work for the movie released Oct. 18. Eakin published a final edition of her work on Northup in 2007. She died in 2009 at 90. The historical drama was shot in New Orleans.

    The exhibit will be open to the public on a weekly basis from Thursday through Sunday and from noon until 4:00pm.  It will also be open by appointment and will be free of charge to visitors.

     

    Read more »
  • Back to Top
    Facebook Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com