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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

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

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

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

     

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

     

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

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


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

     

    About the SU System Commemorative History
     

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

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

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    Madam Mayor: Meet Louisiana’s Black Female Mayors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Small farmers gather for annual conference on innovations, resilience

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

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

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

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

    Session during the conference will include:

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

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

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

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

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    Southern calls Town Hall to discuss medical marijuana venture

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

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

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

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

     

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    New Venture Theatre brings visceral drama with ‘Dot’

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

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

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

    INFO

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

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

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

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

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    BRCC ultrasound students seek volunteers for free exams

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • AKA hosted 300 for MLK Unity Breakfast

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

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

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

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

    ONLINE: www.aka1908.com

    Submitted by LaChondria Holder

     

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

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    ‘Bloodline’ earns Kenny Neal Grammy nomination

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

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

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    Kenny Neal horizontal by James Terry III.jpg

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

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

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

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

    ONLINE: http://kennyneal.net

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                                                                        

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    South Baton Rouge history captured in new book

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

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

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

    The book, Images of America: South Baton Rouge includes over a hundred images of free people of color, historic businesses, faith-based institutions, political figures, the 1953 Baton Rouge bus boycott, and the dedication of the Toni Morrison Society’s Bench by the Road at McKinley High School Alumni Center.
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    “As the city celebrates the 200th anniversary of its incorporation, we want to make sure that the history and contributions of Black communities, such as South Baton Rouge, are not forgotten,” said Martin.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Local Links chapters to announce partnership to support SU

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Mayor Broome announces six cabinet positions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    AT&T holds hiring event, Jan 21

     

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

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

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

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

    Visit www.att.com/jobs for more information on other job openings.
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    Community dialogue features ‘Cultural Bridges in a Time of Troubled Water,’ Jan. 14

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

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

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

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    SULC hooding ceremony set for January 6

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

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

    Carroll D. Atkins
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana

    Melody W. Allen
    Lafayette, Louisiana

    Charletta E. Anderson
    Atlanta, Georgia

    CaShonda R. Bankston
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana

    Rebecca A. Borel
    Loreauville, Louisiana

    Danielle S. Broussard
    Lafayette, Louisiana

    Blake T. Couvillion
    Carencro, Louisiana

    Andrew Davis
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana

    Lee C. Durio
    Breaux Bridge, Louisiana

    Leon D. Dyer
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana

    William C. Eades
    Shreveport, Louisiana

    Michael R. Ellington
    Winnsboro, Louisiana

    GeFranya M. Graham
    Conway, South Carolina

    Curtis L. Guillory
    Lafayette, Louisiana

    Jeremy J. Guillory
    Church Point, Louisiana

    Kristina C. Harrison
    Vacherie, Louisiana

    Lonna S. Heggelund
    Mediapolis, Iowa

    Tammeral J. Hills
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana

    Joshua G. Hollins
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana

    Kemyatta D. Howard
    New Orleans, Louisiana

    Lauren M. Hue
    Lafayette, Louisiana

    Jacob F. Kraft
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana

    Janet D. Madison
    Vidalia, Louisiana

    Latau S. Martin
    Dallas, Texas

    Georgeann McNicholas
    San Antonio, Texas

    Robert A. McKnight
    New Orleans, Louisiana

    Venise M.C. Morgan
    San Jose, California

    Jamar Myers-Montgomery
    Fontana, California

    Candace N. Newell
    New Orleans, Louisiana

    Nigel A. Quiroz
    Brooklyn, New York

    Anthony B. Stewart
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana

    Jennifer E. Thonn
    Slidell, Louisiana

    Read more »
  • ,

    Baton Rouge charter pushes to remain open

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
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    Gov. Edwards announces Board of Regents appointments 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
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    Broome invites girls to ‘Hidden Figures’ Event

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

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

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

     

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Broome announces transition committees, community input teams

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

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

    The committees and co-chairs are as follows:

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

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

    Read more »
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    Smith, Simmons honored for deeds

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

    Read more »
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    Dr. Byron Jasper welcomes Jobs for America’s Graduates

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

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

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

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

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

    ONLINE:www.ohcc.org.

    Read more »
  • ,

    National 100 Black Women charters Baton Rouge chapter, installs officers

    The National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc. proudly chartered the 100 Black Women of Metropolitan Baton Rouge on November 6, 2016 at the Bell of Baton Rouge with more than 200 guests to witness organization’s official formation.

    Chartering officers elected during the ceremony were: Dr. Leah Cullins, president;  Tamiara Wade Ph.D., 1st vice president of membership; Raushanah Hunter, Esq., 2nd vice president of programs;  Ni’Shawn Stovall, Ph.D., 3rd vice president of finance and fund development; Sonya Murray, treasurer; DeShone Smith, financial secretary; Nicole Grimes, recording Secretary; Alsie Dunbar, corresponding secretary; Cheria Lane, Ph.D., parlimentarian; and Rokeya Morris, Esq., historian.

    The 100 Black Women is an organization that advocates an enhanced quality of life for individuals and families of color by facilitating programs that address their needs and unites the public and private sector of Baton Rouge to ensure progress of Black women.

    While establishing a sisterly bond, these programs foster leadership, educational opportunities, economic partnerships, women’s health issues and political strength.

    The mission of the coalition is to advocate on behalf of Black women and girls in order to promote leadership development and gender equity in the areas of health, education and economic empowerment

    The 100 Black Women believe in gender equity, inclusion, respect, racial and social justice, integrity and accountability, economic empowerment, and collaboration.

    Tamiara Wade, Ph.D., Michele McNiel-Emery,  Dr. Leah Cullins, and Ni’Shawn Stovall, Ph.D.

    Tamiara Wade, Ph.D., Michele McNiel-Emery, Dr. Leah Cullins, and Ni’Shawn Stovall, Ph.D.

    The organization’s agenda includes health, education, economic empowerment, strategic alliances, and civic engagement. According to the website, the 100 Black Women’s purpose is to:

    • Foster principles of equal rights and opportunities;
    • Promote the awareness of Black culture;
    • Develop the potential of the membership for effective leadership and participation in civic affairs;
    • Take action on specific issues of national and international importance, and
    • Cooperate with other persons and organizations to achieve mutual goals.

    “We are looking to select an eclectic group of women that are “movers and shakers” in the greater Baton Rouge area with a desire to meet the mission of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc. Membership is open to individuals who possess demonstrated leadership experience with evidence of participation in local community, government, service, business or political affairs,” organizers said.

    The organization meets monthly and can be followed on Twitter @100BlackWomenBR, Facebook at /100BlackWomenBatonRouge, and on Instagram: @100BlackWomenBR

    ONLINE: www.100blackwomenbr.com/

    Read more »
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    BR journalists remember Gwen Ifill

    On behalf of the Baton Rouge Area Association of Black Journalists, I would like to express my deepest sympathies to the family of veteran, award winning journalists Gwen Ifill.

    Ifill was a true example of professional journalism and was an inspiration to women of color.

    Ifill handled her career in journalism with style and grace, never compromising herself.

    Cheryl J. Stroy
    president
    Baton Rouge Area Association of Black Journalists

    Read more »
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    Michael Foster, ‘Red Beans & Rice Mondays’ return Nov. 21

     

    The Belle of Baton Rouge is pleased to announce that starting on November 21, Michael Foster Presents: Red Beans & Rice Mondays will be held in Beauregards at 6pm. Continuing its history of mixing southern tradition with entertainment, the Belle provides a perfect location for event-goers to delight in food and live music. Attendees will enjoy guest performances by The Michael Foster Project featuring Roger Lewis of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, along with free red beans and rice by the Belle of Baton Rouge’s resident Chef, Dwight Sherman.

    Michael Foster Presents: Red Beans & Rice Mondays will also be utilizing this kickoff event to celebrate its 2nd year anniversary. As a part of the celebration, Keys to Life will be on site presenting a keyboard to Howell Park Elementary School. To date, Keys to Life has presented four keyboards to various schools in the East Baton Rouge Parish area.

    This free event will take place every Monday from 6pm to 9pm, and highlight different musicians that will provide entertainment, and professional chefs who will provide the signature dish of the event’s namesake.

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    Crisis counseling can help families cope with recent flood

    Recovery efforts in Louisiana continue following the historic August floods, and many survivors are still coping with the immediate effects of the disaster. While obvious problems such as home repair preoccupy some Louisianans, there is a quieter, more ominous issue that may threaten flood survivors.

    Disaster-related distress is a silent, serious threat to any individual affected by a major disaster. It can manifest in the form of depression, anxiety or even post-traumatic stress disorder. According to the National Center for PTSD, more than 50 percent of those affected by major disasters develop some kind of clinically significant stress disorder.

    Disaster-related distress is particularly treacherous because it is virtually unpredictable. While individuals with preexisting stress disorders or addictions are more likely to suffer from disaster-related distress, it can attack anyone at any time. Even individuals who show no signs of stress-related disorders immediately after a disaster may develop a condition years later.

    Disaster-related distress, like any other illness, is most easily recognized by its symptoms. While symptoms vary by case and may be mistaken for symptoms of other illnesses, disaster-related stress disorders usually produce a combination of the following warning signs:

    • Headaches
    • Chest or muscle tightening
    • Fatigue
    • Inability to sleep
    • Overall restlessness
    • Uncontrollable anger, sadness or fear
    • Lack of appetite
    • Substance abuse
    • Social withdrawal
    • Suicidal thoughts

    Individuals exhibiting many or all of these symptoms should seek treatment from a licensed therapist immediately. If left untreated, disaster-related distress can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, diabetes and/or suicidal tendencies.

    While the diagnosis and treatment of disaster-related distress may seem like a daunting process, it is not one that flood survivors and their loved ones need to go through alone. All survivors of the August flooding can take advantage of free disaster crisis counseling available through FEMA and the state of Louisiana.

    The Crisis Counseling Program is funded by FEMA and implemented by the state. The purpose of the program is to provide survivors with free, local counseling services that promote resilience, empowerment and recovery.

    The crisis counselors available through the Crisis Counseling Program are local people, many of whom have also been affected by flooding. These counselors are not therapists; they come from all careers and walks of life. However, they have all been trained to educate, support and inform survivors. If necessary, the crisis counselors can refer survivors to therapists for diagnosis and treatment.

    Crisis counselors are available at all FEMA disaster recovery centers. To find a center near you, call the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362 or text DRC and your ZIP code to 43362. You can also find a center near you by downloading the FEMA mobile app or going online to fema.gov/drc.

    For more information regarding the Crisis Counseling Program or to set up an appointment for counseling, call the Louisiana Office of Behavioral Health at 866-310-7977 or the Disaster Distress Hotline at 800-985-5990.

    Read more »
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    Tina, Solange, Kelly, Beyoncé to ‘Love on Louisiana’ Nov 20 in Baton Rouge

    Holiday event aims to raise $1 million for Louisiana flood relief


    The state of Louisiana is set to receive much needed relief following August’s devastating flood.  Tina Knowles-Lawson, Solange Knowles, Kelly Rowland, and Beyoncé  will partner with Essence to raise $1 million for those affected by the flood in Baton Rouge.

    On Sunday, November 20, they will host Love on Louisiana: An Essence Hometown Heroes Tribute celebrating the resilience of the Baton Rouge community.

    “Louisiana is a special place in my family’s history and we are committed as a family to never forget the city and the people of Baton Rouge,” said Tina Knowles-Lawson. “It breaks my heart to see the unimaginable disaster and destruction caused by the flooding, and we will stand and support every effort in place to help the people most affected.”

    The holiday dinner and awards ceremony, set at Raising Cane’s River Center, will honor standout students and teachers for their commitment to serving and rebuilding their communities. With support from the City of Baton Rouge and the State of Louisiana, the event will serve as a call to action to raise $1 million to help families recover in the wake of this summer’s catastrophic flooding, which produced seven trillion gallons of water—three times the rainfall total of Hurricane Katrina.

    In addition to the award recognition, gift baskets containing donated goods will be distributed to students, teachers and families who are still largely affected by the severe flooding. The event will also galvanize citizens from around the world to support Louisiana by donating here to fund new homes for local families via Habitat for Humanity of Greater Baton Rouge.

    “I extend my deepest appreciation to Ms. Tina Lawson, Essence and Time Inc. for their commitment to helping the people of Louisiana,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “The Essence family has a long and rich history with our state and the ‘Love on Louisiana Tribute,’ which celebrates the strength of our families and students, is especially meaningful. This is the time of year when families, friends and communities come together. Our people have endured many setbacks over the last several months, but they are resilient and determined to come back stronger. But we cannot do it alone and that is why it is so gratifying to know that you support us and that your hearts are with Louisiana.”

    “Baton Rouge is especially proud to host this event that not only recognizes students and teachers who have contributed to rebuilding our community, but will also raise much needed funds to help families recover,” said Mayor-President Melvin L. “Kip” Holden. “The power that these amazing sponsors bring to this event means it will be a tremendous success, and they have our deepest appreciation.”

    Join the conversation online by using the hashtag #LoveOnLouisiana and by directing supporters to donate here. Follow Essence on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to learn more.

    Read more »
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    Financial recovery empowerment seminar

    Urban Restoration Enhancement Corporation in partnership with Red River Bank will host a series of FREE Financial Recovery Seminars, starting on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016 from 9:30-11:30am at Delmont Gardens Branch Library; Tuesday, Nov.15, 2016 from 5:30-7:30pm at Scotlandville Branch Library; and Thursday, November 17, 5:30-7:30pm at Redemption Life Fellowship. For more information, email info@urecbr.com or call (225) 356-8871. Register online.

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    In Memoriam: Albert “Tootsie” Meyers

    Albert Junious “Tootsie” Meyers was born on February 3, 1943 in New Roads, Louisiana. He was one of eight children born to the union of Joseph Melvin and Agnes Francois Meyers. Albert transitioned from this life to his heavenly home on October 23, 2016, at his residence in Baker, Louisiana.  He was educated in the East Baton Rouge Parish School System, and was a 1961 graduate of Scotlandville High School.  He was a member of the Scotlandville High Hornets basketball team. In 1961, he was selected as a member of the Negro All-City Interscholastic Basketball Team. Albert later attended Wiley College in Marshall, Texas and Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

    In 1999, he retired from Roadway Express after 27 years of service.  He was later honored by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local Union No. 5 for his years of service and dedication.  Albert was also a founding member of the Beacon Civic and Social Organization in Baker, Louisiana.

    Meyers is survived by his devoted wife of 52 years, Geraldine Curtis Meyers; four children, Jackie Moore, Jeanene Meyers, Shonda Wessinger, and Jermaine Meyers; one daughter-in-law, Candice Joubert Meyers; three brothers, Alfred Meyers, Joseph Meyers Jr., and Lionel Meyers; two sisters, Beulah Credit and Theresa Batiste; seven grandchildren, Adrian “Tootie” Chapman, Jamar Thomas, Haley Wessinger, Sydney Wessinger, Madison Meyers, Tatum Meyers, Julia Meyers; and three great-grandchildren, Bryson Bessix, Cameryn Thomas, Maliah Thomas; a lifelong friend and Good Buddy, Sherman Robinson. He is preceded in death by his parents, Joseph and Agnes Meyers; sister, Leola Gibson; and brother, Arthur Meyers.

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    City Parish, DoJ host community conversations on policing

    The City of Baton Rouge Parish of East Baton will host community conversations to discuss and review police policy on Nov. 1 and Nov. 3 at 6pm in the Raisin Cane’s River Center, Exhibition Hall, meeting room 9.

    Organizers said the public will provide recommendations for a community action plan. Discussions will be led and facilitated by Synthia Taylor, regional director for the Department of Justice Community Relations Service –Southwest Region.

    “This is an opportunity to enhance community relations and develop more resources as we strive to continue to improve community policing,” said Mayor Kip Holden. “We welcome the public’s input on these very important topics.”

    Topics include community policing, police accountability, body cameras, police civil service rules as well as training, recruitment, retention, residency requirements, and pay incentives.

    For more information, call (225) 389-3100. Register at https://ebrcommunityconversation.eventbrite.com.

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  • Flood survivors may be eligible for lodging expense reimbursement

    Flood survivors who have registered with FEMA may be eligible for reimbursement if they had to pay out-of-pocket for temporary lodging because of flood damage to their primary residence.

    You may be eligible for lodging expense reimbursement if you:

    • register with FEMA;
    • pass identity verification;
    • verify occupancy in a primary residence within a declared parish;
    • verify that their primary residence is uninhabitable or inaccessible;
    • incurred disaster-related temporary lodging expenses on or after the incident period start date — in this case, Aug. 12;
    • do not have insurance that would cover lodging and therefore duplicate benefits; and
    • did not receive lodging assistance during the same time period.

    Reimbursement funds are available for eligible applicants up to the maximum amount of financial assistance — $33,000 — available through FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program. Applicants who have already received the maximum grant available will not be eligible for lodging expense reimbursement.

    Survivors who are approved for lodging expense reimbursement must submit zero balance receipts to FEMA in order to receive payment. Reimbursement will not cover incidental costs such as phone calls, laundry, internet, pay-per-view, food, or pet care.

    Read more »
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    AKA hosted candlelight vigil set for October 27

    Local elected officials, law enforcement officers, community groups and churches will gather for a candlelight vigil on Thursday, October 27, at 6 p.m., on the steps of the State Capitol, to remember those who died at the hands of loved ones.  The public is invited to attend the vigil.

    Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, Nu Gamma Omega Chapter (Baton Rouge), is organizing the vigil in memory of two sorority sisters, Aleria Cyrus Reed and Monica Butler Johnson, who died at the hands of their estranged husbands.

    Rev. Leo Cyrus Sr., the uncle of Aleria Cyrus Reed and pastor of New Hope and Second Baptist churches, and Rev. Linda Joseph, associate pastor at Neely United Methodist Church, will conduct the candlelight prayer service.

    Preceding the vigil, State Rep. Patricia H. Smith, D-Baton Rouge) will discuss the victim protection laws passed during the recent legislative session, followed by East Baton Rouge Parish Assistant District Attorney Melanie Fields; Baton Rouge Chief of Police Carl Dabadie, Jr., and City Constable Reginald R. Brown, Sr., who will explain how law enforcement officers and the courts are using the state’s domestic violence laws to protect the innocent.  Twahna Harris, executive director of The Butterfly Society, will also speak.

    Read more »
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    EBR residents asked to report debris collection needs

    Mayor-President Melvin L. “Kip” Holden is asking residents for help in identifying where debris still needs to be collected following the devastating flooding of August 2016.

    Any residents whose flood debris is currently placed curbside and in need of collection should contact the City-Parish by completing a web-based form the Department of Information Services – GIS Division has established specifically for these remaining debris collection needs. The form, located at http://gis.brla.gov/reportdebris, allows residents to easily report their address, contact information, type of debris in need of collection, and – if available – attach a photo of the debris pile so that responding crews know exactly where to go and what to expect when they arrive.

    Residents can also call 1-888-721-4372 with their address, contact information, and a description of the debris that has yet to be collected.

    In an effort to most efficiently direct debris removal trucks and resources throughout impacted areas, City-Parish officials are asking residents to only place flood debris curbside and to do so in separate piles according to the type(s) of debris needing collection. Any construction or re-construction materials should be disposed of by the contractor performing this work in accordance with the typical approved manner of disposal.

    Last week, debris removal operations officially moved into their second phase, which now involve more targeted flood debris collection passes based on any debris known to have not been collected during the first phase of operations. Nearly 1.6 million cubic yards of flood debris have been collected since efforts first began August 20, which continues to serve as one of the largest ever flood debris removal efforts of its kind.

    Residents interested in tracking the progress of these efforts can go online to access a web-based, interactive map identifying areas where debris is picked up during this second phase of operations. This map, updated daily, can be accessed by clicking the following link: http://gis.brla.gov/debris

     

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    Trump, Bodi White get EBR Republican Party endorsements

    The East Baton Rouge Republician Party has endorsed State Senator Mack “Bodi” White for mayor-president and Donald Trump for president.

    “(White) is a solid conservative who stands against high taxes and overregulation,” EBR Republician Party leader Woody Jenkins said. “He supports traditional family values and the Second Amendment, and he is an ardent supporter of quality education.”

    The Louisiana GOP, the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors, Louisiana Associated General Contractors and several other GOP leaders have also endorsed White.

    According to the latest campaign finance reports, White raised $383,096 and has $371,877 on hand. There is an
    additional $105,000 sitting in a PAC –Citizens For A Better Baton Rouge– which will be supporting White. The candidate with the next highest cash on hand is former Senator Sharon Weston Broome, a Democrat, who has $76,581.

    The general election for the mayor-president’s race is November 8 and is expected to end in a runoff election on December 10.

    Read more »
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    Governor Edwards appoints 27 to boards, commissions

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

    Louisiana Executive Board on Aging
    The Louisiana Executive Board on Aging is responsible for developing and implementing policies and procedures pertaining to the Office of Elderly Affairs within the Office of the Governor; for approving matters of policy and all rules and regulations pertaining to elderly affairs and all voluntary parish councils on aging; and for reviewing and making recommendations to the director of the Office of Elderly Affairs on matters of general importance and relevance to the planning, monitoring, coordination and delivery of services to the elderly.

    Harold L. “Digger” Ritchie, of Franklinton, was appointed to the Louisiana Executive Board on Aging. Ritchie is the owner of Poole-Ritchie Funeral Home and a former member of the Louisiana House of Representatives. He was nominated by the Washington Parish Council on Aging and will serve as a representative of the 1st Public Service Commission District.

    Ricco A. Thomas, of Addis, was appointed to the Louisiana Executive Board on Aging. Thomas is a district manager with the Social Security Administration and a part-time police officer for the Addis Police Department. He was nominated by the East Baton Rouge Council on Aging and will serve as a representative of the 2nd Public Service Commission District.

    Edward J. Walters Jr., of Baton Rouge, was appointed to the Louisiana Executive Board on Aging. Walters is an attorney and founding partner of Walters, Papillion, Thomas, Cullens, LLC. He was nominated by the Louisiana State Bar Association and will serve as a representative of the 3rd Public Service Commission District.

    Mona F. Gobert-Cravins, of Washington, was appointed to the Louisiana Executive Board on Aging. Gobert-Cravins is a 211 manager and assistant administrator with 232-HELP, Inc. She was nominated by 232-HELP, Inc. and will serve as a representative of the 4th Public Service Commission District.

    Worlita L. Williams, of Mansfield, was appointed to the Louisiana Executive Board on Aging. Williams is a licensed clinical social worker with the DeSoto Parish School Board. She was nominated by the Louisiana Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers and will represent the 5th Public Service Commission District.

    Volunteer Louisiana Commission
    The Volunteer Louisiana Commission is charged with encouraging community service as a means of community and state problem-solving, promoting and supporting citizen involvement in government and private programs, developing a long-term comprehensive vision and plan for action for community service initiatives in Louisiana, acting as the state’s policy-making body for the Corporation on National and Community Service, and serving as the state’s liaison to national and state organizations that support its mission. Appointments to the commission are made by the Governor in collaboration with the Lieutenant Governor.

    Jeremy C. Babers, of Shreveport, was appointed to the Volunteer Louisiana Commission. Babers is an attorney and the owner of The Law Office of Jeremy Babers. He will serve as a representative of business on the commission.

    Karen Moss-Barnes, of Shreveport, was reappointed to the Volunteer Louisiana Commission. Moss-Barnes is the fair share coordinator for the City of Shreveport’s Fair Share Program. She will continue to serve as a representative of local government on the commission.

    Carissa J. Graves, of Baton Rouge, was appointed to the Volunteer Louisiana Commission. Graves is a former educator and AmeriCorps alum. She also serves as a mentor for Kids Hope USA. She will serve as a member with expertise in educational, training and developmental needs of youth on the commission.

    Mitzi R. Hail, of Baton Rouge, was appointed to the Volunteer Louisiana Commission. Hail is an enterprise corporate delivery manager with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana. She will serve as a representative of business on the commission.

    Gwendolyn W. Hilliard, of Prairieville, was appointed to the Volunteer Louisiana Commission. Hilliard is a mentor with the Big Buddy Program and the Boys and Girls Club. She also serves as a frequent volunteer with Volunteer Ascension and the American Red Cross. Ms. Hilliard will serve as a representative of community-based agencies or community-based organizations within Louisiana on the commission.

    Angela S. Jouett, of Lake Charles, was appointed to the Volunteer Louisiana Commission. Jouett is the health initiatives and strategic partnership manager for the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury. She will serve as a representative of local government on the commission.

    Patrick C. Lawler, of Baton Rouge, was appointed to the Volunteer Louisiana Commission. Lawler is a team supervisor with Love Our Community and a City Year Baton Rouge corps member. He will serve as a member between the ages of 16 and 25 who is a participant or supervisor in a service program on the commission.

    Laurie A. Manley, of Slidell, was appointed to the Volunteer Louisiana Commission. Manley is the volunteer coordinator at Slidell Memorial Hospital. She will serve as a member with expertise in the delivery of human, educational, environmental or public safety services to communities and persons on the commission.

    William O. Stoudt, of New Orleans, was reappointed to the Volunteer Louisiana Commission. Stoudt is a self-employed manager and former executive director for Youth Rebuilding New Orleans. He will serve as a representative of a national service program on the commission.


    Washington Parish Reservoir District

    The Washington Parish Reservoir District was formed to study the feasibility of developing a reservoir in Washington Parish and to search for a potential site. Appointments to this board are made by the Governor from nominations received by the Washington Parish President, each of the seven Washington Parish Council members, and the three members of the Washington Parish legislative delegation.

    Charles E. Mizell Sr., of Bogalusa, was reappointed to the Washington Parish Reservoir District. Mizell is the former mayor of Bogalusa. As required by statute, he was nominated by the Washington Parish President.

    Michael K. “Mike” Garic, of Bogalusa, was appointed to the Washington Parish Reservoir District. Garic is the owner and operator of Alex’s Tamale Shack and a former Bogalusa Police officer. As required by statute, he was nominated by a member of the Washington Parish Council.

    Bob D. Bateman, of Franklinton, was reappointed to the Washington Parish Reservoir District. Bateman is retired and previously worked with the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security. As required by statute, he was nominated by a member of the Washington Parish Council.

    Michael L. Melancon, of Bogalusa, was appointed to the Washington Parish Reservoir District. Melancon is the director of revenue cycle for Our Lady of the Angels Hospital. As required by statute, he was nominated by a member of the Washington Parish Council.

    Clifton E. Roberts, of Angie, was appointed to the Washington Parish Reservoir District. Roberts is retired and previously worked at the LSU Bogalusa Medical Center. As required by statute, he was nominated by a member of the Washington Parish Council.

    William A. “Bill” Jenkins, of Angie, was reappointed to the Washington Parish Reservoir District. Jenkins is the owner of Bill Jenkins Forestry Services. As required by statute, he was nominated by a member of the Washington Parish Council.

    Jason M. Creel, of Franklinton, was appointed to the Washington Parish Reservoir District. Creel is the chief operating officer of Creel Brothers, Inc. As required by statute, he was nominated by a member of the Washington Parish Council.

    James F. “Jim” Beatty, Ph.D., of Mount Hermon, was appointed to the Washington Parish Reservoir District. Beatty is retired and previously worked as a dairy nutrition consultant with Purina Mills. As required by statute, he was nominated by a member of the Washington Parish Council.

    John E. Nichols, of Bogalusa, was appointed to the Washington Parish Reservoir District. Nichols is retired and previously worked as a senior consultant on nuclear energy projects. As required by statute, he was nominated by a member of the Washington Parish legislative delegation.

    D. Beryl Schilling, of Mount Hermon, was reappointed to the Washington Parish Reservoir District. Schilling worked in the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division for 29 years. As required by statute, he was nominated by a member of the Washington Parish legislative delegation.

    Jerry A. Thomas, M.D., of Franklinton, was appointed to the Washington Parish Reservoir District. Dr. Thomas is a family practice physician and a former member of the Louisiana State Senate and House of Representatives. As required by statute, he was nominated by a member of the Washington Parish legislative delegation.

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    Online resources increase for flood survivors

    imagesPublic and private entities have information online ready to help if you’re a survivor of Louisiana’s recent severe storms and floods. Here is a listing of many online resources available to disaster survivors.

    Clothing, Food, Shelter, etc.
    2-1-1 is a single access point for resources like food, clothing, shelter, financial assistance and health resources. Visit www.louisiana211.org and follow @211Louisiana on Twitter.

    Wage or work issues
    The Workplace Justice Project / Wage Claim Clinic out of New Orleans is available to assist anyone with wage or work issues relating to the flooding, including workers who did not receive pay because of flooding and resulting business closures or other wage claims or other issues arise in the weeks and months of recovery. We are working with state and federal agencies to handle claims as efficiently as possible. Call the clinic at 504-861-5571, email  wjpnola@gmail.com, or check the website www.wjpnola.org.

    Situational awareness in Louisiana
    The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) contains links to disaster planning guides and situation updates at gohsep.la.gov.  You can also get emergency news at emergency.louisiana.gov and the governor’s website at gov.la.gov.

    FEMA
    Access FEMA’s website for the recent severe storms and floods at www.FEMA.gov/disaster/4277. It has the latest news and information on the disaster in Louisiana. Also, ‘like’ the FEMA Facebook page and follow @FEMAregion6 on Twitter.

    Also, www.DisasterAssistance.gov  has links for survivors to register and update your contact information, community resources, government directories and alerts. You may also call the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362. If you who use TTY may call 800-462-7585. If you use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362.

    U.S. Small Business Administration
    Low-interest disaster loans from the SBA are the largest source of federal disaster funding for businesses, private nonprofits, homeowners and renters. Learn more at www.sba.gov/disaster.

    Disaster Recovery Centers
    Get answers to your disaster assistance questions at a Louisiana DRC. Go online to find your closest center at fema.gov/disaster-recovery-centers.

    Volunteers and Donation
    Volunteer and donation opportunities are available at volunteerlouisiana.gov. You may email 2016FloodDonations@gmail.com to coordinate donations.

    Parish contact information
    Your parish leaders may be able to give information on how to dispose debris properly and provide information to assist your recovery. Get their contact information online at gohsep.la.gov/about/parishpa.

    Transitional Shelter Assistance hotels
    Find hotels that participate in TSA at femaevachotels.com. You may also find participating hotels by calling the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362. If you who use TTY may call 800-462-7585. If you use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362.

    Rental resources
    Find available rental resources that are participating in FEMA’s rental assistance program by going to FEMA’s housing portal at asd.fema.gov/inter/hportal/home.htm. The list is routinely updated.

    Insurance contact information
    Get your company’s contact information online at the Louisiana Department of Insurance: www.ldi.la.gov/onlineservices/ActiveCompanySearch.

    National Flood Insurance Program
    Learn more about flood insurance at www.floodsmart.gov. Contact your insurance company to start a claim. Get your company’s contact information online at the Louisiana Department of Insurance: www.ldi.la.gov/onlineservices/ActiveCompanySearch.

    If you have flood insurance questions call 800-621-3362 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and select option 2. Call center staff are available to assist with information regarding your policy, offer technical flood guidance to aid in recovery and answer other flood insurance questions. You can be transferred to your insurance carrier for additional assistance if you have further questions. If you use TTY may call 800-462-7585. If you use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362.

    Repair, rebuilding and clean up information
    Get repair and rebuilding tips at fema.gov/louisiana-disaster-mitigation. Get information about mucking out your property at crisiscleanup.org or call 800-451-1954.

    • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; 1-800-451-1954
    • Mennonite Disaster Service; (330) 473-5956
    •  Habitat for Humanity; (225) 927-6651
    • First Baptist Association of Southeast Louisiana; 1-877-487-4658 (assistance for all areas); 318-541-1398 Livingston Parish; 225-295-0775 Baton Rouge Area- Istrouma Baptist Church;  225-261-3434 Central Area Zoar Baptist Church
    • St. Bernard Project; 504-277-6831; www.sbpusa.org
    • Austin Disaster Relief; 512-806-0800; www.adrntx.org
    • Operation Blessing; 225-753-2273
    • Healing Place Church at 569 Florida Ave SW Denham Springs 70726; www.healingplacechurch.org
    • Rotary Foundation for building supplies, appliances, furniture; 337 237-0628
    • Cajun Army; www.thecajunarmy.com
    • The Multi-Family Lease and Repair Program (MLRP) may provide funds to make your rental units habitable again in order to lease them to provide temporary housing to eligible FEMA applicants.
      • Repairs or improvements do not need to be storm- or flood-related.
      • You may choose your own contractor after you’ve agreed with repair costs with FEMA. FEMA is interested in working with Louisiana property owners in hard-hit communities with a lack of housing. Call 225-382-1464 or email fema-ia-dhops@fema.dhs.gov if you’re a property owner interested in repairing your rental property and assisting disaster survivors.

    Food assistance
    Go online to www.foodpantries.org/st/louisiana to see a database a statewide food banks.

    General health and welfare
    The Department of Health and Hospitals has health information at dhh.louisiana.gov. Search for “CDC” on Facebook and follow @CDCEmergency on Twitter for information from the Centers for Disease Control. The hotline for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is 800-321-OSHA (6742).

    Baton Rouge Primary Care Collaborative, Inc., also located at the Jewel J. Newman Community Center, 2013 Central Road Baton Rouge, will provide medical care to flood survivors during normal weekday hours, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Flood survivors who are unable to contact their regular physicians or lack transportation can be seen at the medical clinic.

    Mental health services
    The Louisiana Directory of Mental Health Services is online at new.dhh.louisiana.gov/index.cfm/page/97/n/116. For children and youth services, call the state health department at 225-342-9500 or visit the Children’s Special Health Services website at dhh.louisiana.gov/index.cfm/page/740  for information or to apply for services for developmentally disabled children.

    UnitedHealthcare Healing Together Initiative will host weekly Healing Together Recovery Workshops at the Jewel J. Newman Community Center, 2013 Central Road every Tuesday during the month of September (6, 13, 20, 27), 11:00am-12:00 noon. The workshops are designed to provide a holistic road map to recovering from the challenging and often devastating effects of the Great Flood. T

    Children
    Contact your local school district if you have not been able to enroll your child in school in the town where you are currently living, or if you have not been able to return to your home school district. Find contact information to your schoolboard at www.lsba.com/PageDisplay.asp?p1=798.

    Family Road is now providing women, infant, and children items to those individuals and families impacted by 2016 floods. If you are need of assistance you can call Family Road at (225) 201-8888, or visit 323 East Airport Avenue between the hours of 9:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Be prepared to provide: DSNAP card, SNAP card, ID/Driver’s License or other proof of residence (i.e. flooded area).

    Child care service is now available for Louisiana survivors while they are visiting the FEMA Disaster Recovery Center at Celtic Studios, 10000 Celtic Drive in Baton Rouge, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Monday through Sunday. )Parents of children ages 3-12 may use the free child care service while they conduct business at the Disaster Recovery Center. The child care service is not a day care and children cannot be left at the Disaster Recovery Center. The child care service is provided by volunteers of Children’s Disaster Services, a ministry of the Church of the Brethren. All child care volunteers are trained in a 27-hour workshop. The child care service is offered in a secure location at the Disaster Recovery Center. Upon check in, a parent is given a numbered badge that is identical to one placed on his or her child. This badging process ensures that only the child’s parent can check the child out of the care service.

    Senior citizens
    Louisiana Aging Services administers federal and state-run services for senior citizens. It also oversees the Area Agencies of Aging in each parish, which develop coordinated community-based systems. Visit new.dhh.louisiana.gov/index.cfm/subhome/12/n/7 or call the Aging and Adult Services Helpline at 866-758-5035.

    Persons with disabilities or access and functional needs
    Louisiana has several agencies that deal with different groups of people who are disabled or have access and functional needs. To learn more, visit the Department of Health and Hospitals online at dhh.louisiana.gov or the

    Louisiana Assistive Technology Access Network at latan.org/index.php/programs-services/emergency-preparedness/23-emergency-preparedness/27-emergency-preparedness-program.html.

    Environmental health
    The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences provides documents and resources in English, Spanish and Vietnamese that address emergency preparedness in hurricane and flood situations. Links are at tools.niehs.nih.gov/wetp/index.cfm?id=2472.

    The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality has a resource page www.deq.louisiana.gov/portal with fact sheets and information on environmental issues, including disaster debris management. The Environmental Protection Agency’s website, www.epa.gov, has a section on water issues. Find “EPA” on Facebook, follow @EPAgov on Twitter or call 888-283-7626.

    Legal services
    Louisiana Legal Services provides free civil legal assistance to low-income residents. Visit them at louisianalawhelp.org.

    The Disaster Recovery Law Clinic at the Southern University Law Center helps clients file and register with FEMA and other government aide groups, as well as assisting with insurance claims and applying for public benefits. The Clinic operates weekdays, Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with extended hours on Mondays and Wednesdays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Appointments are encouraged to help ensure quality assistance. Call (225) 771-3333 or come into the clinic office located at the Southern University Law Center, 2 Roosevelt Steptoe Drive, Baton Rouge, LA 70813.

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  • Emergency grants offered to cultural organizations, collections through Dec. 1

    In response to the August 2016 floods, the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities announces 2016 Emergency Grants for organizations whose sites or collections were damaged during the disaster. Tax-exempt organizations with a history of cultural programming can apply for up to $1,000 to defray costs for staff, paid workers, and volunteers working on flood related clean up and restoration efforts.
    Eligible organizations must be located in one of the FEMA-designated parishes: Acadia Parish, Ascension Parish, Avoyelles Parish, East Baton Rouge Parish, East Feliciana Parish, Evangeline Parish, Iberia Parish, Iberville Parish, Jefferson Davis Parish, Lafayette Parish, Livingston Parish, Pointe Coupee Parish, St. Helena Parish, St. James Parish, St. Landry Parish, St. Martin Parish, St. Tammany Parish, Tangipahoa Parish, Vermilion Parish, Washington Parish, West Baton Rouge and West Feliciana Parish.
    Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until December 1, 2016. Notifications will be made within 2 weeks. Organizations can email questions to Robert@leh.org or call 504.620.2639. These grants were made possible by a Chairman’s Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
    The LEH is accepting donations to supplement the NEH’s support with additional funds. Click here to join these efforts.
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  • ,

    Flood victims encouraged to pre-register for DSNAP benefits

    The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services is encouraging those who have experienced loss or damage in the severe storms and flooding to pre-register for benefits under the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

    DCFS is preparing a DSNAP application for parishes included in the initial federal disaster declaration for the State of Louisiana. Those parishes currently include East Baton Rouge, Livingston, St. Helena and Tangipahoa – although the list is expected to grow rapidly.

    DSNAP, formerly called Disaster Food Stamps, provides food assistance to eligible households who do not receive regular SNAP benefits and who need help buying groceries due to lost income or damages following a disaster. The state must request that the federal government initiate DSNAP, but can only make the request after the president activates the Stafford Act and approves the parish for In

    dividual Assistance.

    After the state makes its request, it is expected that the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Services will respond quickly. In the meantime, DCFS is preparing potential DSNAP application sites and encouraging impacted residents to pre-register for benefits either online or by phone.

    The best way to pre-register is online at www.dcfs.la.gov/preregister. However, residents can also pre-register by phone beginning tomorrow, August 16, at 1-888-LA-HELP-U (1-888-524-3578) daily between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Callers will select the appropriate language and then select options 3 and 3. All pre-registrants will have to provide the following information:

    • Name, Social Security Number and Date of Birth for each household member 
    • Current address and parish of household 
    • Monthly income for each household member 
    • All liquid assets for each household member (cash on hand, checking, savings)

    The information will be kept securely on file and will be confidential.

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

    Residents who are already pre-registered for DSNAP do not need to pre-register again. If the state’s DSNAP request is approved, residents who live in an eligible parish and have pre-registered must still visit a DSNAP application site to verify their information and identity to determine final eligibility and receive benefit cards, if eligible.

    Households that receive regular SNAP benefits and live in parishes where DSNAP is activated DO NOT have to visit a DSNAP site to receive supplemental benefits. These households that receive regular SNAP benefits and live in parishes where DSNAP is activated will automatically have supplemental benefits added to their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards if they are not already receiving the maximum allotment for their household size. 

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

     


     


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    Edwards, DOTD, Officials unveil plans for Washington Street off-ramp

    Gov. John Bel Edwards joined Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Shawn Wilson and local elected officials to highlight a major transportation project in Baton Rouge. The Edwards administration is investing more than $20 million to advance the construction of a new off-ramp to relieve the merging conflict for motorists at the Washington Street exit on I-10. Last month,Edwards secured a $60 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to fund a project between the I-10/I-49 interchange and the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge. By partially funding that project through federal resources, the state of Louisiana is able to reallocate financial resources to other projects throughout the state, including the Washington Street off-ramp.

    “The Washington Street exit along I-10 is one of the most congested portions of interstate in the country,” said Edwards. “By engaging our federal partners and bringing our tax dollars home to Louisiana, we can improve our infrastructure, grow our economy and make life easier on the citizens who live, work and travel through this region. I appreciate the hard work of DOTD over the last seven months to get us to this point, and I am confident that the Capital Region will be positively impacted by this critical work. Going forward, I am committed to partnering with the federal government to make critical investments in infrastructure throughout our state.”

    “The benefit of the FASTLANE award is significant for other state priories,” Wilson said. “This allows the state to provide independent utility in the form of a new left side off-ramp that will ease traffic in the vicinity of Washington Street.”

    With the funds made available through the FASTLANE grant, Edwards is allocating $20-$25 million dollars of state money to the construction of this new project. Construction of this new off-ramp is now funded and awaiting final plans. To get to the construction phase, DOTD in the last 7 months accelerated the interchange modification report and expects completion by the end of 2016.

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    Street Justice: Thousands demand arrest of BR Police

    Whether it was a gathering of 300 in front of the Triple S convenience store, small groups of 50 meeting at area churches, nearly 400 at city hall, dozens painting signs at LSU, or a thousand marching through downtown, Baton Rouge residents and visitors are protesting the death of 37-year-old man, Alton Sterling, who was shot by Baton Rouge police officers, July 5.

    The shooting drew public attention immediately and protests began taking their cries for justice to the streets, starting on North Foster. of the shooting. Demonstrations for Alton Sterling followed in major cities across the nation.

    Protests have been largely peaceful, however local, city, and state officers’ use of force when arresting protesters have resulted in injuries. Reports have serviced of police attacking, beating, and illegally arresting protesters.

    This treatment has been publicized in national media. Following closed meetings between Black elected officials and the US Department of Justice, East Baton Rouge metro councilman Lamont Cole said the group has “some serious concerns” about how protesters have been handled by police.

    ”I don’t think the police need to make any more arrests or push the people to make an arrest,” Moore said.

    The American Civil Liberties union of Louisiana agrees. On July 13, the group filed a lawsuit against the BRPD, the Louisiana Department of Public Safety, EBRP Sheriff’s Department, and State Police for using excessive force and “violating the First Amendment rights of demonstrators who were protesting peacefully against the killing of Alton Sterling.” The ACLU has requested a restraining order that would put restrictions on how protesters can be scattered and detained during future demonstrations. under the order, officers would not be able to use chemical” agents—such as tear gas— without clear warning and authorization from the governor. It also would only allow officers to work protests if their names, agency and identifying number were clearly displayed. The ACLU said protestors were verbally abused and physically hurt.

    “These protests are and will continue to be one of the strategies our citizens use to bring attention to the issue of police brutality and demand justice in the death of Alton Sterling,” said Michael McClanahan, president of the NAACP Baton Rouge Chapter.

    On July 5, BRPD officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II were responding to a call from 911 saying there was a “man with a gun” at the Triple S on North Foster Drive at Fairfields Avenue. There they met Sterling who was selling CDs outside the store with the owner’s permission. Two videos of the shooting surfaced online via Facebook within hours, raising doubts about whether the police officers were justified in the shooting. Defenders of the police say other video exists that will exonerate the officers.

    At the request of Gov. John Bel Edwards, the U.S. Department of Justice took over the investigation and the officers were placed on paid, administrative leave. District Attorney Hillar Moore III recused himself due to personal ties to Salamoni’s parents, who are also police officers. The state Attorney General will be in charge of prosecuting any state charges.

    Groups from across the nation have traveled to Baton Rouge to join protestors, train observers, and organize activists for the longterm work of demanding justice. Organizers of rallies have said the work for justice will continue. Across nearly every part of the city, citizens—Black and white, elected officials, and police—are working to find solutions in closed meetings, criminal hearings, at policy meetings, during city council and legislative sessions, at mass, on the stage of poetry slams, and in safety briefings. “But the work began in the streets,” said McClanahan.

    By Candace J. Semien
    Jozef Syndicate

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  • ,,

    Protesters, leaders vow: ‘We will not destroy or burn down our community’

    Alton Sterling’s death has inspired nationwide protests backed by thousands of Americans who want to end police brutality and the unremitting laws that seem to protect those who are employed to serve and protect citizens.

    Sterling’s name is being called by people all over the world who are partaking in public demonstrations, rallies, and protests seeking justice for his death and that of Philando Castile, Dylan Noble, and others who were killed by police officers. With the continued efforts being taken to protest, many people are optimistic about the possibility of justice being served this time around, but what happens if the verdict isn’t in favor of the victims? How will supporters feel? Will the public outcry lead to a volatile response from protesters? In Baton Rouge, leaders are extending a strong message to citizens currently fighting for justice and against police brutality. They are saying, with microphones in hand and in casual conversations, “Rioting and looting aren’t effective forms of retaliation. We will not destroy Baton Rouge.”

    In the past, America has seen the devastating aftermath and retaliation from outraged protesters and residents following seemingly “unjust” verdicts. Many of the most highly publicized officer-involved shootings have resulted in non-indictments, non-guilty verdicts, and dropped charges.

    Despite facing incriminating evidence and unedited videos of their attacks, overly aggressive—and often violent—police officers have managed to walk away from cases with judges ruling in their favor. Instead of serving time, these officers end up getting a slap on the wrist or a severance package to move on with their lives. Only to be met with violent uproar within the communities left on the other side of justice.

    Local community leaders and elected officials have stepped into what could’ve been riotous moments during the protests following Sterling’s killing and deescalated situations in an effort to keep peace. With emotions and tensions at it peak, these leaders say they aren’t personally concerned about the possibility of local looting, but some residents are.“I don’t have a concern about looting, but I’m a business owner and a property owner so, I do know other business and property owners may be worried about those possibilities because they aren’t as close to the situation as I am,” said businessman Cleve Dunn Jr.

    Cleve Dunn Jr

    Cleve Dunn Jr

    “(Baton Rouge has) done things differently from a lot of other places around the country because we’ve had the opportunity to learn from the lessons and previous mistakes other communities have made and observed that if you tear your community up, once national media leave and professional protesters leave, we’re left to deal with the aftermath.”

    To that, Black leaders throughout the city stress the importance of refraining from destroying the community, saying the aftermath would be detrimental to the advancement of the community.

    “Destructive protests do not accomplish anything because generally our people are the ones who hurt the most from it,” said Doris Gaymon, 64, a lifelong resident of North Baton Rouge. “We tend to destroy our own areas and properties and it defeats the purpose of the message we hope to send. In many cases, the areas destroyed are not insured and total destruction on those locations have made owners apprehensive about rebuilding in the impacted areas due to fears of repeated destruction.”

    For Gaymon, Sterling’s death is quite disheartening and many of the strikingly intense photos from recent protests mirror those from Civil Rights era demonstrations. The images and emotions signify the fight for equality and the ongoing battle against police brutality.

    “It appears we haven’t gotten beyond destruction,” she said.

    Gaymon remembers the 1972 rally at Southern University where Denver Smith and Leonard Brown were fatally shot by white deputies while protesting on campus. Although their protests weren’t centered around police brutality, they were fighting for a number of on-campus changes and the resignation of certain administrators.

    “The death of Alton Sterling has only culminated a deep-rooted problem that has been festering for many years. Hopefully, we, as a people, can understand that destruction does not resolve anything,” Gaymon said.

    In spite of all the horrific events Baton Rouge has experienced—including the shooting death of Sterling, attacks on peaceful protestors, and the deaths of three uniform officers—most residents agree emphatically that retaliation in the form of rioting and looting won’t relay the message of justice the community is hoping to send.

    “At every opportunity, you will hear leaders and residents all over saying, ‘We will not destroy or burn down our community!’,” said Dunn. “And we will not. This is ours.”

    By Meaghan Ellis
    Special to The Drum

    Originally published July 2016 in the print edition of The Drum

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  • Moore steps down as prosecutor in Sterling case, faces question of police treatment of protesters

    During a press conference earlier today East Baton Rouge DA Hillar Moore announced that he has recused himself as prosecutor in the Alton Sterling case. Moore said he has no relationship to Blane Salamoni or Howie Lake II, the two officers involved in the fatal shooting, but he does have a relationship with both of Salamoni’s parents, who are also police officers.

    Moore described the relationship as professional in nature, spanning his career as an investigator, defense attorney, and district attorney.

    While answering questions from members of the media at the same press conference, Moore expressed some doubt as to whether yesterday’s move by police to enter the private residence of Lisa Batiste, who had given protesters permission to be in her home, was appropriate or legal.

    “I don’t think the police need to make any more arrests or push the people to make an arrest. . .Whether police can go onto private property, obviously if they saw a crime committed, they can follow that person. Maybe not inside a house depending on the charge.” said Moore

    This treatment has been publicized in national media and in closed meetings between Black elected officials and the US Department of Justice.

    EBRP metro councilman Lamont Cole told The Advocate that the group has “some serious concerns” about how protesters have been handled by police.

    At this time, officials are awaiting recommendations from the US Department of Justice on whether charges should be brought against Lake and Salamoni who are on paid, administrative leave from the Baton Rouge Police Department.

    Read more »
  • NewsOne Now talks with BR activist Arthur Reed about Alton Sterling shooting

    News One Now managing editor Roland S. Martin spoke with Baton Rouge activist Arthur Reed about his personal video of the police shooting of 37-year-old Alton Sterling. Reed spoke about the systemic racism and division that has always been present in the Baton Rouge community.

    “There are a bunch of lies when it comes down to this being a close knit community, said Reed. “This has been a divided community ever since the Jim Crow era. It’s a community of two different types of Black folks; Black folks who will push the vote and black folks that will stand on the shore and tell us that the vote don’t need pushing. We have two different types of Black folks here in Louisiana and definitely in Baton Rouge.”

    Reed also called out Baton Rouge’s Mayor Kip Holden for being supportive of the police and his lack of compassion towards Sterling’s family.

    “The mayor has done a poor job of being a part of the Black community,” added Reed. This young man has been murdered, and the mayor has not shown his face at any of the vigils, he has not come out and talked to the family. The mayor is being pro-police knowing that the police have been the biggest agitators and oppressors of the community here in Baton Rouge.”

    Read more »
  • ,

    Mayoral candidate Smokie Bourgeois releases statement on Sterling shooting

    Smokie Bourgeois, candidate for Mayor-President, released an official statement on the recent shootings earlier today:

    “When I came of age, my daddy had a serious talk with me. He started with the phrase ‘violence begets violence’. He went on to make it clear to me that anytime I encountered police officers, it would be a good idea to follow their instructions. If I ever wanted to argue or fight with police, nothing good would come of it. He said to save my arguments for the judge. His words ring as true today as back then.

    Of all the horrific crimes committed and reported in Baton Rouge, one story has caught everyone’s attention; the death of Alton Sterling. Media reports, supported by video, make one fact very clear, Alton Sterling refused to follow police officers’ repeated instructions.

    Smokie Bourgeois

    Smokie Bourgeois


    To anyone who wants to treat police officers as shooting targets, you cannot win, you will only lose. The emotional tide sweeping this city and country will turn against you. All lives matter, particularly those of the men and women in law enforcement who place their lives on the line every day to protect you. In every civilized society, the rules of law and the authority of those who protect us must be respected and followed for the safety of all.

    Read more »
  • ,

    BREC completes improvements at T. D. Bickham Jr. park

    With the help of BREC Planning & Engineering and BREC CIP Crew, T. D. Bickham Jr. Park features new renovations and amenities. The park is located at 6850 Pettit Road. BREC will host a ribbon cutting on Friday, July 15 at 10 a.m. to dedicate the project completion.

    Improvements include new playground equipment with two different play areas, one for young children with an age appropriate play unit and tot swings. The other play area is for older kids featuring six climbers, two slides and an arch swing. A new half basketball court was also added, and a picnic shelter was renovated. New connector walks make all the new amenities accessible to everyone.

    The improvements were completed in time for summer camp kids to enjoy. Due to renovations at Baker Recreation Center, summer camp moved to T. D. Bickham Recreation Center. For years to come, children will benefit from the new playground equipment with heart-healthy exercise, social development in group interaction, and enhanced sensory and motor skills.

    T. D. Bickham is just one of the parks receiving renovations in the area. Scotlandville Park now has a new disc golf park and a grand opening will be held on Saturday, August 6 at 10 a.m. Renovations are currently underway at Anna T. Jordan Community park and a grand opening for an expanded and completely renovated recreation center will be held this fall. In addition, construction on a new visitors and event center is set to begin very soon at the Laurens Henry Cohn, Sr. Memorial Plant Arboretum.

    Read more »
  • ,

    The world is watching Baton Rouge

      Media around the world are watching Baton Rouge:

    MSNBC:Protests have erupted in Baton Rouge, Louisiana after the shooting of 37-year-old Alton Sterling by police early Tuesday morning

    CNN: Louisiana lawmaker calls on Justice Department to investigate police shooting death

    New York Times: Alton Sterling and When Black Lives Stop Mattering

    Wallstreet Journal: U.S. Justice Department to Investigate Police Shooting in Baton Rouge – http://www.wsj.com/articles/louisiana-officer-fatally-shoots-suspect-protests-erupt-1467796285

    BBC: Alton Sterling death: Fresh protests over Louisiana shooting – http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-36731378

    Philadelphia CBS: Demonstrators Hit Philadelphia Streets Protesting Death Of Alton Sterling – http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2016/07/06/demonstrators-hit-philadelphia-streets-protesting-the-death-of-alton-sterling/

    Black America Web: #AltonSterling Is The Latest Victim Of A Culture That Dehumanizes Black Men – http://blackamericaweb.com/2016/07/06/altonsterling-is-the-latest-victim-of-a-culture-that-dehumanizes-black-men/

    IMG_20160706_225507

      Social Media:

    Hillary Clinton: “The death of Alton Sterling is a tragedy, and my prayers are with his family.” – https://twitter.com/HillaryClinton/status/750851893480521728

    Governor John Bel Edwards: Gov. Edwards’ Statement Following Recent Officer-Involved Shooting in Baton Rouge – http://gov.louisiana.gov/news/statement-following-recent-officerinvolved-shooting-in-baton-rouge

    Jessie Jackson: “The shooting of #AltonSterling in #BatonRouge is a legal lynching. Justice must prevail. #Outraged” – https://twitter.com/RevJJackson/status/750648298415853568

    Drake: “It is impossible to ignore that the relationship between black and brown communities and law enforcement remains as strained as it was decades ago.” – https://www.instagram.com/p/BHim8QWjFTx/

    Glen Davis: “I knew Alton Sterling and he wouldn’t hurt a fly” – http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/basketball/nba-glen-davis-knew-alton-sterling-wouldn-hurt-fly-article-1.2701263

    Shaun King: “Officers Blane Salamoni & Howie Lake should already be arrested by now. That latest video of their execution of #AltonSterling is enough.” – https://twitter.com/ShaunKing/status/750870151554174976

    Read more »
  • ,

    STEM NOLA revolution takes on Baton Rouge

    “GO. SEE. DO,” IS THE MESSAGE CALVIN MACKIE, Ph.D., is spreading with a STEM revolution that is exposing young people to
    math and science interactively. The mission is to grow future innovators, creators, and entrepreneurs through inspiration,
    engagement, and exposure.

    “There is power in doing,” said Mackie. “At some point we have to get up off our behinds and do. We have to stop talking and planning and actually do something.”  #LetsGoPeople is the hashtag Mackie adds to the end of every Facebook post, prompting his more than 16,000 followers to action. “I remember speaking with Dr. Cornell West and I whispered to him, ‘I am going to bring social justice to STEM,’” said Mackie, who taught engineering for more than 12 years at Tulane University in New Orleans. To do so, he established STEM NOLA to give children and teens opportunities to experience and gain knowledge in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics once a month—and in a big way. “If we give our kids the right skills now in math, science and technology, paired with their own creativity, they can create things the world never seen before,” said Mackie who has mentored thousands of college scientists. He has taken this message to audiences at NY Life, Morehouse University, Hillsborough Community College, and to researchers with the J Robert Gladden Orthopaedic Society, Discovery Communications, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The award-winning science mentor uses the STEM program to emphasize the importance of taking what is learned to create something new and compete with other youth from across the globe. He said for someone to own the future in the 21st century, “he or she must first create the future and for people of color to find a genius in their community. It is not enough to invest in only a select few, but to support and build up every child, teen, and young adult.” “We celebrate the fact that we have a million boys and girls playing sports dreaming to be one of 60 to get drafted,” he said. In 2005, after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans, Tulane University eliminated its engineering program and fired Mackie. “So I decided, as Lebron James says, to ‘take my talents back home’.” Mackie said and chuckled. 

    Stem Nola 2

    After 12 years of dedicating his life to students in the classroom, the Morehouse graduate felt he could reach a larger number of young people and make a bigger impact by working directly in the community and enlighten his students on the importance of STEM in today’s world. “Why should I prepare my kid to go through a crack when there is a wide open gate of opportunity to go through”? He shared that opportunity in conjunction with Baton Rouge Community College. The STEM NOLA team came to the capitol city to give high school students the opportunity to experience life science, energy, and force using Mackie’s interactive module. What sets STEM NOLA apart from the classroom experience is the high energy activities the students complete in small groups in order to retain the information that was taught during a lecture. For three days, sixty high school students met the STEM NOLA challenge during Spring Break. On the first day, the lecture and lab covered life science and the heart. Mackie taught the importance of a healthy lifestyle in relation to the heart and how proper rest affects the heart’s circulatory system. Afterwards, the students built a four-chamber mechanical heart out of everyday materials and had the opportunity to dissect the four-chamber heart of a sheep. The next day was energy day. Students spent the first part of the day learning about active and passive solar energy. To aid with the understanding of solar energy, the group built solar energy houses that were placed outside to see which house allowed the least amount of sun inside. To track the amount of sun that each house allowed in, the rate of the increase heat for each house was measured. The house that increased at the lowest rate in heat was declared the winner and received a prize. Later that day, Mackie’s group was given windmill kits to put design and measure the amount of voltage from the windmill. The final day featured force in motion using paper and other household materials to create a rocket that could be launched by compressed air. The group launched solid rockets that could reach up to an altitude of 700 feet with the right booster.  “BRCC saw what we did in New Orleans and said the kids in Baton Rouge deserved to experience something like this,” said Mackie. STEM NOLA is held in New Orleans every second Saturday of the month. It is also part of a national maker movement. ONLINE: www.stemnola.org

    BY BRIANA BROWNLEE
    JOZEF SYNDICATE REPORTER

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  • ,,,

    Reed becomes deputy under secretary

    Kim Hunter Reed has been appointed by President Barack Obama as deputy under secretary of education.

    Reed will be a member of the senior leadership team at the Department of Education that oversees higher education in the United States. She is the former chief of staff for the Louisiana Board of Regents and the former executive vice president of the University of Louisiana System. Earlier, she served on the faculty at Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge and was executive assistant to the president and interim vice president of student affairs at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond.

    Reed earned a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism and master of public administration degree at Southeastern Louisiana University. She holds a doctorate in public policy from Southern University.
     

    Read more »
  • ,

    Dixon promoted to Public Relations Colonel

    LSU Cadet Todd Dixon, a New Orleans native, has been selected to serve as the Regimental Commanding Officer for the 17th Regional area of the National Society of Pershing Rifles.  Dixon’s range of responsibility includes eight Pershing Rifles chapters at universities across the South in Louisiana, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida and Georgia. He will also maintain his responsibilities and current position as Commander of Pershing Rifles at LSU.

    Since 2011, this will be the first time the Regimental Headquarters for this area will be located at LSU.  It is a huge accomplishment, and is reflective of the tremendous efforts and hard work of Dixon and Pershing Rifles at LSU. At their national convention, Dixon was promoted to the rank of Public Relations Colonel effective on March 12, 2016. 

    Read more »
  • Youth to gather for first Youth Justice Day, April 6

    Why are 17-year-old children
    prosecuted as adults in Louisiana
    and stigmatized with life-long criminal records?


    BATON ROUGE — Louisiana is one of only nine states that routinely prosecute 17-year-olds as adults — a fiscally irresponsible and inhumane practice that affects about 6,000 LA youth each year, endangering public safety by increasing recidivism <http://theadvocate.com/news/opinion/15224459-171/guest-column-including-17-year-olds-in-the-juvenile-justice-system-makes-us-safer> .


    A broad swath of supporters, including Governor John Bel Edwards and state Supreme Court Chief Justice Bernette J. Johnson, are calling on Louisiana to get in stride with the 41 states that include 17-year-olds in the juvenile justice system. Sponsored by Sen. JP Morrell, D-New Orleans, the RAISE THE AGE LOUISIANA ACT of 2016 (SB 324 <http://www.legis.la.gov/legis/ViewDocument.aspx?d=984017> ) is included in the Edwards Administration’s legislative package.

    Join us on the Capitol steps on April 6 for the stirring kick-off of Louisiana’s first annual Youth Justice Day in support of RAISE THE AGE LOUISIANA.

    Youth Justice Day is sponsored by the Louisiana Youth Justice Coalition, a network of over 60 advocacy groups that support common-sense juvenile justice reform.

    This is a local story on an issue of national concern. Read about Louisiana and the seven other states <http://campaignforyouthjustice.org/news/blog/item/raise-the-age-bills-flourish-in-2016>  with RAISE THE AGE campaigns and pending legislation.

    April 6 at 10:30 am:

    · Release of a powerful report authored by the Louisiana Youth Justice Coalition arguing that the inclusion of 17-year-olds in our juvenile justice system is safe, smart, cost-effective, and fair.  (Contact us for an advance copy.)

    · Speakers include Rob Reardon, Lafayette Parish Director of Corrections; Dr. James Gilmore, Director of the Governor’s Children’s Cabinet; Baton Rouge Juvenile Court Judge Pamela Taylor Johnson; and Jasmine Jeff, a senior at New Orleans’ Sci Academy whose research for a term paper sparked a passion for RAISE THE AGE.

    · The New Orleans youth dance group, Dancing Grounds, will live-illustrate news conference messages with giant props and assistance from the audience.  This is a strongly visual media op that reporters and camera crews won’t want to miss.

    At 11:30 am:

    · Join us at the Capitol Park Welcome Center <http://www.crt.state.la.us/tourism/welcome-centers/capitol-park-welcome-center-rentable-venue/index>  for a technical panel on the report and RAISE THE AGE legislation. Three related juvenile justice bills will be discussed as well.

    At 12:30 pm:

    · Follow along with Jasmine Jeff and her peers as they enter the Capitol and lobby legislators in support of RAISE THE AGE — a first-time act of civic engagement for many of these young people.

    At 1:00 pm:

    · The legislative session opens with Rep. Joseph Bouie, D-New Orleans, reading a proclamation in support of Youth Justice Day <http://www.legis.la.gov/legis/ViewDocument.aspx?d=985212>  and the hundreds of students — 350 confirmed to date — in attendance.

    For more on RAISE THE AGE, the three related bills, and the Louisiana Youth Justice Coalition, visit www.youthjustice.la <http://www.youthjustice.la/> .

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Auditions open for ‘The Piano Lesson’

    THE PIANO LESSON AUDITION NOTICE
    DIRECTED BY: TIM SANDIFER
    Set in Pittsburgh during the Great Depression, The Piano Lesson explores the troubled relationship of a brother and sister and their struggle over an extraordinary family heirloom, a piano carved with images of their African ancestors. The carvings, done by their enslaved grandfather, instill the piano with a metaphysical legacy – one the siblings avoid or even take for granted, but come to accept and embrace. The piano ultimately brings together a family long torn apart by slavery, violence and murder.Register Here
    When
    Saturday
    April 9, 2016
    1:00 pm
    (General Auditions)
    Where
    Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge
    2nd Floor
    427 Laurel Street
    Baton Rouge, LA 70801
    What
    THE PIANO LESSON
    REHEARSAL DATES
    April 11, 2016 – May 19, 2016
    Mondays – Thursdays, 6:30 – 9:30 PM
    Sundays, 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM
    Rehearsals are at the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge
     PERFORMANCE DATES
    May 20, 21 and 22, 2016
    Fridays & Saturday at 7:30 PM Sunday at 3:00

    3 Performances at the LSU Shaver Theatre
    AUDITION REQUIREMENTS
    Please prepare a one-minute dramatic monologue.
    CHARACTERS
    CHARLES DOAKER: Male, 40-60, African Descent, African American The uncle and the owner of the house, spent his life working for the railroad, functions as the play’s testifier.
    BOY WILLIE: Male, 25-40, African American, Berniece’s brash, impulsive, and fast-talking brother who plans to sell the family piano and buy the land his ancestors once worked on as slaves.

     

    LYMON: Male, 25-40, African American, Boy Willie’s longtime friend, speaks with a disarming “straightforwardness”, fleeing the law, he plans to stay in the north and begin a new life.

     

    BERNIECE: Female, 30-40, African America, Boy Willie’s sister, still in mourning for her husband, Crawley, blames her brother for her husband’s death.

     

    MARETHA: Female, 10-14, African American, Berniece’s eleven-year-old daughter who is learning to play piano, the next generation of the Charles’ family.

     

    AVERY BROWN: Male, 30-45, African American, A preacher who moves north once Berniece’s husband dies in an attempt to court her, honest and ambitious.

     

    WINING BOY: Male, 45-65, African American A wandering, washed-up recording star who drifts in and out of his brother Doaker’s household whenever he finds himself broke.

     

    GRACE: Female, 25-35, African American A young, urban woman whom Boy Willie and Lymon each try to pick up.

    Email questions to info@newventuretheatre.org.
    Read more »
  • ,,

    Gauthier leaves McKinley to serve with Naval Beach Group TWO

    NORFOLK–A 2014 McKinley Senior High School graduate and Baton Rouge native is serving in the U.S. Navy with Naval Beach Group TWO (NBG 2). Seaman Tyran’e Gauthier is working with the beach group operating out of Virginia Beach, Virginia.
    A Navy seaman is responsible for training other new personnel and handling check-in for incoming personnel.
    “I like being able to welcome new sailors and get them started on the right track to success,” said Gauthier. “I also like being responsible for training because I feel it is important.”
    Commissioned in 1948, NBG 2 is designed to organize, man, train and equip forces to execute, combat support, and combat service support missions. NBG 2 is made of four commands, Assault Craft Unit TWO (ACU 2), Assault Craft Unit FOUR (ACU 4), Amphibious Construction Battalion TWO, and Beach Master Unit TWO (BMU 2); who have their own individual missions that assist to ensure the overall mission of NBG 2 is complete.
    Gauthier serves with ACU 2 who operate the Landing Craft Air Cushion and provide combat ready craft that fully meet operational tasking worldwide, on time, every time.
    “I like that this command does not see rank,” said Gauthier. “They give you responsibility regardless of rank.”
    Approximately 30 officers and 300 enlisted men and women make up the beach group. Their jobs are highly specialized and keep each part of the command running smoothly. The jobs range from operating boats to maintaining engines and handling weaponry.
    “The sailors here never cease to impress me with the effort they put into their daily work,” said Capt. Jeffrey Hayhurst, commodore commander of NBG 2.”Their dedication and hard work make me proud to be in command of Naval Beach Group Two.”
    Although NBG 2 is made up of four separate commands, they all work together to complete their mission of providing the Navy personnel and equipment to support an amphibious operation or exercise.
    These exercises can include evacuation of American citizens from a hostile territory, delivery of food and medical supplies after a natural disaster, the bulk delivery of fuel or fresh water from a ship anchored off the coast through a pipeline to a shore facility, and nearly any other task that involves moving from ships offshore to the beach.
    “Since joining the Navy, I have matured a bit more,” said Gauthier. “I have always been a leader but now I am a bit more organized.”
    As a member of the one of the U.S. Navy’s most unique commands, Gauthier and other NBG 2 Sailors understand that they need to have the ability to complete a variety of missions to help keep America safe from enemies foreign and domestic.

    Read more »
  • State Senator Barrow sets community meetings

    State Senator Regina Barrow will hold a series of community meetings in the Senate District 15 area to discuss a variety of legislative issues. Representatives from many state agencies, including the departments of health and hospitals, children and family services, revenue, and transportation as well as the Governor’s Office, Attorney General’s Office, and the Office of Motor Vehicles, have been invited to attend. State Representatives Ted James, Ronnie Edwards, and Barbara Carpenter have also been invited to join the discussion. Barrow urges citizens in the area to take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about important state issues. She can be reached at (225) 359-9400.

    • Tuesday, Feb. 23,  6pm – 7:30 pm at St. Mark United Methodist Church, 6217 Glen Oaks Drive
    • Thursday, Feb. 25, 6pm – 7:30pm at Greenwell Springs Road Library, 11300 Greenwell Springs Road
    • Thursday, March 3,  6pm – 7:30pm at the Baker Branch Library, 3501 Groom Road 
    • Read more »
  • ,,

    Weekend cultural celebration salutes Black health, inventors, musicians, Mardi Gras Indians

    The Baton Rouge community is invited to experience a fun-filled weekend of performances, historical displays and interactive cultural celebrations, Feb. 19-21 at the The Angel Heart Center, 3800 Florida Blvd. According to organizers The 2016 Baton Rouge Black History Celebration will salute Black inventors and scientists in the untold history of the United States of America.  

    Events begin Friday, Feb. 19, at 6pm with a welcoming introduction, movie screening, and review. At 8:30 p.m., the Lyricist Lounge opens “The Mic” for Poetry, Spoken Word, and musical performances, with a Live DJ on site. The weekend will include performances by jazz artist George Bell, vocalist Meagan Simone, and the African Dance Collective of Baton Rouge. The Black Inventions Museum will make a tour stop at the Angel Heart Center with customized historical exhibits highlighting the contributions of Louisiana’s inventors who were people of color, on display throughout the weekend.

    Jazz artist George Bel

    Jazz artist George Bel

    There will also be nutrition and health food samplings and children’s activities. Discussion panels will focus on: health, family and social structure, economics, politics and choices for 2016. Hosted on the campus of the Parris Cardiovascular Center’s Twilight Center & Spa, free blood pressure and diabetes screenings will be conducted by health professionals for adults. The three-day event is free and open to the public.

    On Saturday afternoon, 5-6pm, there will be an oral presentation by professor Umar Bey, spokesman for the twenty-five year old traveling museum. He will return to give a special presentation of The Origins of the Mardi Gras Indians with photographic works of New Orleans Mardi Gras Indians by Louisiana visual artist Chad Kristian which will be on display throughout the event.

    Cordel Parris, MD

    Cordel Parris, MD

    Photograph of Mardi Gras Indians by Chad Kristian. http://www.chadkristian.com

    Photograph of Mardi Gras Indians by Chad Kristian. http://www.chadkristian.com

    A cartoon workshop for children starts Saturday, Feb. 19, at 11am. From noon to 3pm, participants will screen excerpts from the Hidden Colors movie series focusing on economics, politics and our collective, current state of affairs, and share a panel discussions of the topics from 12:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. “This will be a positive, productive interactive dialogue. It is a chance to learn and share each other’s views, concerns, and solutions to mutual problems,” said organizers.

     

    At 3pm Sunday, Feb. 21, Dr. Cordel Parris, a local cardiologist, will moderate a panel discussion on physical, spiritual, and mental health issues, including a presentation on healthy, nutrition tips with local health professionals, underwritten by Sam’s Club.  At 5pm, professor Umar Bey will present The Origins of Mardi Gras Indians featuring Chad Kristian’s Mardi Gras Indian photography on display Friday-Sunday.  Local food, craft, and book vendors will be on site for the event.

    This celebration is sponsored by Parris Cardiovascular’s Twilight Center, The Bridge Educational Services LLC, Creative Solutions LA, and Hilltop Apiary LLC. The Traveling Black Inventors Museum is underwritten by  Educational Development Outreach Centers, Inc.

    ONLINE: https://www.facebook.com/2016BatonRougeBlackHistoryMonthCelebration/

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Shabazz presents ‘Growing Up X’ at BREC event Feb 19

    The Recreation and Park Commission for the Parish of East Baton Rouge (BREC) will celebrate Black History Month, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 19, at the Independence Park Theatre, 7800 Independence Blvd. This event is free and open to the public.  

    BREC will present “Growing Up X” featuring guest speaker, Ilyasah Shabazz, the daughter of historical figures Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz. She is a community organizer, social activist, motivational speaker and author of the critically acclaimed Growing Up X. Ilyasah promotes higher education, interfaith dialogue and building bridges between cultures for young leaders of the world.

    She produces The WAKE-UP Tour, an exclusive youth empowerment program and participates on international humanitarian delegations. She is the founder of Malcolm X Enterprises and is a trustee for The Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center. She also serves on the Board of the Harlem Symphony Orchestra, is a member of the Arts Committee for the New York City Opera at Lincoln Center and a project advisor for the PBS award-winning documentary, Prince Among Slaves.

    The program will also feature theatrical performances, musical selections and an interview with Shabazz.

    “We are pleased to welcome Ms. Shabazz to BREC as part of our annual celebration. We hope that by offering programs like this, we can honor those who played such important roles in the Civil Rights movement while reflecting on the progress that has been made over the past few decades,” said BREC Superintendent Carolyn McKnight. “Our hope is that we can use experiences like this to bring us closer together as a community,” said McKnight.

    This event is sponsored by the BREC Foundation, Cumulus Media, Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge, AmeriHealth Caritas of Louisiana, Main Street Pilot Club of Baker, Louisiana NAACP, NAACP Baton Rouge, Capital City Collision, Hotel Indigo, Dr. Leah S. Cullins, Apex Collegiate Academy, Dawn Collins for School Board, Senator Regina Barrow, Xi Nu Lambda Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., AARP Mid-Town LA Ch. #5433, Councilwoman Erika Green, WTQT Radio, Sigma Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. and Representative Patricia Haynes Smith.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Standing Strong in Sickle Cell benefit concert scheduled for Feb 19

    Come lift a joyful noise for a wonderful cause! The Voices of Hope Gospel Singers of Baton Rouge are sponsoring a gospel concert benefiting the Baton Rouge Sickle Cell Anemia Foundation. The details for the concert are as follows:

    Voices of Hope Gospel Singers of Baton Rouge Present

    “Standing Strong in Sickle Cell”

    A Gospel Concert Honoring Families Affected by Sickle Cell Disease

    Nazarene Baptist Church

    1707 Spanish Town Road

    Baton Rouge, LA 70802

    Friday, Feb. 19, 2016

    7:00 pm

    2016 marks 42 YEARS of the Foundation’s service to 11 parishes in the state of Louisiana. BRSCAF is the only organization whose mission is to provide supportive medical and social services to people living with sickle cell disease in these parishes. We need your help to ensure client support.

    ONLINE: www.brscaf.org

    Read more »
  • ,,,,

    COMMENTARY: ‘Mardi Gras, big fat lies’

    Saturday, February 6, 2016, was a historic day in Baton Rouge.  It was also a day filled with contradictions that are characteristic of the State Capital.
    image

    In one section of the city residents gathered to remember the 1953 Baton Rouge bus boycott with the dedication of a memorial bench by The Toni Morrison Society.

    In another section of the city confederate flags were waving and a float was preparing to parade down public roadways mocking the killings of unarmed Black men and women.

    As shocking as the images were for some—and as predictable as they were to others—what was even more disturbing and revealing were the efforts by some people to justify and rationalize the presence of confederate flags, but especially the float as mere satire. 

    Furthermore, descriptions of the float as a joke that may have gone too far and dismissals of the negative reactions that followed revealed what many people have already known; the idea that we are living in a post-racial or colorblind society is a big fat lie.  Race matters as much today as it did more than 60 years ago when blacks were legally forbidden from owning their own buses lines, saddled with a bus fare increase, and forced to stand while seats reserved for whites remained empty.  Through collective action, the community forced changed.  The change was not necessarily the type everyone in the community envisioned, but it helped move hundreds of thousands of people to renew or establish a commitment to social justice. 

    Now more than ever there is a similar need for people of all walks of life to demand more of their friends, family members, neighbors, and colleagues.  Remaining silent about things that matter cannot be a viable option in the face of such offensive and unjust actions.  Mocking a contemporary iteration of a struggle as old as the nation itself is no laughing matter.  We should all feel a sense of righteous indignation when unarmed mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters are killed not on foreign battlefields, but on American streets.  In far too many cases, the victims’ families are left to not only mourn but in the case of the shooting of a young man in Chicago and his neighbor, now they also have to ward off l

    image

    awsuits from the very person who pulled the trigger. 

    Sadly, the float during the Spanish Town Mardi Gras Parade that displayed a brutalized pink flamingo and baton meant to resemble one carried by a law enforcement officer, and bearing the moniker, “Pink Lives Matter,” points to the sad truism that throughout our nation’s history the lives of people of African ancestry have mattered less to some people than animals or even beloved cultural symbols. 

    Mardi Gras season is a time for celebration. Sadly, the season is also a time when big fat lies about race and racism are on parade. 

    By Lori Latrice Martin, PhD
    Guest Columnist

    Lori Martin is an LSU associate professor of sociology and African & African American studies

    Read more »
  • ,,,,

    What did Che’dra Joseph say?

    “Can everybody give Che’ a big round applause”? said President Barack Obama, to a crowd of more than 700 citizens who gathered at McKinley High School in Baton Rouge, Thursday, Jan. 14, for a town hall meeting.

    Che’Dra Joseph, the daughter of Jessica Bornholdt and granddaughter of Mary E. Joseph, welcomed the crowd to McKinley
    and introduced the president.

    “We could not be more proud of her. I was backstage; I asked her, ‘Are you nervous?’ She said, ‘No, I got this. I’m fine.’ That is a serious leader of the future. And we are so proud of her,” said President Obama.

    So, what did this Student of the Year with a remarkable 4.6 grade point average tell the world as she introduced the President?

    Che'Dra and President Obama. Photo by Yusef Davis

    Che’Dra and President Obama. Photo by Yusef Davis

    Good morning, McKinley alumni, students, faculty, town hall participants, esteemed guests, and viewers at home. I am Che’dra Joseph, McKinley High School’s 2015-2016 Student of the Year and a finalist for East Baton Rouge Parish Student of the Year. Neither my experiences nor my environment have always been conducive towards forming a foundation for my ambitions. My upbringing has given me the insight that hardships do not limit
    opportunities. A journey towards self-actualization is not as easy for all of us, as it is for some. It is challenging for marginalized Americans to succeed. However, remaining focused
    on ambitions and education allows opportunities for moments of surrealism, similar to this one. I am here, in spite of, not because of, my circumstances. I have defied statistics, and I will not falter in my aspirations to dismantle the glass ceilings
    imposed on women, people of color, and minority groups. McKinley has been a significant factor in my personal development due to its ever-present, but often unacknowledged historical value. In 1907, McKinley became the first institution in Louisiana to offer
    Black students academic advancement. Furthermore, its first graduating class of 1916 was all female. McKinley was a win
    for Black excellence, and a win for women. Today, McKinley is home to educational opportunities that allow for a progressive,
    inclusive environment that stimulates informative and insightful dialogue among people who exhibit diversity in everything from skin color, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and religion. I am honored for the opportunity to introduce myself and the President. As a representative of McKinley High School,
    Baton Rouge, and Louisiana, I offer the President our gratitude for giving America a nontraditional model of success that proves
    adversity does not restrict opportunity and for choosing McKinley High School to make history. Ladies and gentleman, McKinley High
    School proudly welcomes, The President of the United States of America, Barack Obama.

    The gym erupted with applause.

    Read more »
  • ,

    New Venture Theatre announces Jan. 30 auditions

    New Venture Theatre will host auditions for two performances, Jan. 30. They are:

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    Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds: a Children’s Musical Show Audition Notice
    Director: Dorrian Wilson
    Assistant Director: Roger Ferrier

    AUDITION
    Saturday, Jan. 30, 3:30pm (General Auditions)
    Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge 2nd Floor 427 Laurel Street Baton Rouge, LA 70801

    REHEARSAL DATES
    Feb 2 – March 3
    Monday – Thursdays, 6pm – 9pm

    PERFORMANCE DATES
    March 4 and 5
    Friday, March 4 2pm and 7:30pm
    Saturday, March 5, at 2pm and 7:30pm

    SYNOPSIS
    Three little birds sing their sweet songs to Ziggy, a very shy child who is happy to see the world from the T.V. in his room. But his tricky friend, Nansi wants him to get out and enjoy the island of Jamaica. But Ziggy is afraid of Hurricanes, Mongoose and evil spirits. Their worldly adventure is enlivened by the fantastic songs of renowned Reggae artist Bob Marley.

    AUDITION REQUIREMENTS
    Please prepare a one-minute of a song that shows your range and vocal ability (SELECTIONS FROM BOB MARLEY WILL BE ACCEPTED). ALL SONGS WILL BE PERFORMED WITHOUT MUSICAL ACCOMPANIMENT. No monologues required for this production, there will be a cold reading.

    CHARACTERS
    Ziggy- a timid boy with long dreadlocks- 11

    Nansi- a trickster girl- 11 (Also: Spanish Bird#2/ British Colonizer Bird, Sister Indian Bird)

    Duppy- an evil spirit bird with a head full of human hair taken from children, 30s ( Also: Villager #1/ Great Grandfather Spanish Bird)

    Doctor Bird- a lucky bird, Ziggy’s pet and best friend, 20s

    Cedella- Ziggy’s Mother, 40s ( Also Montego, a bird/ Spanish Bird #1/ Great Aunt African Bird)

    Tacoma- a bird ( Also plays- Villager #2/ Great Grandmother British Bird/ Cousin Chinese Bird)

    RASHEEDA SPEAKING AUDITION NOTICE
    Directed by: April Louise
    Written by: Joel Drake-Johnson

    AUDITIONS
    Saturday, January 30 at 1pm

    Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge 2nd Floor
    427 Laurel Street Baton Rouge, La 70801

    REHEARSAL DATES
    February 15 – March 18
    Rehearsals are at the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge

    PERFORMANCE DATES
    March 19 and 20 7:30pm
    LSU Studio Theatre/ School of Theater
    Louisiana State University
    105 Music and Dramatic Building/ Baton Rouge, La 70803

    SYNOPSIS
    A White physician attempts to oust his black receptionist by enlisting a white female coworker as a spy. Tensions rise as relations between the two women quickly deteriorate, turning their once-cordial workplace into a battlefield of innuendos, paranoia, and passive aggression.
    With wit and close observation, “Rasheeda Speaking” mimes the subtleties of “post-racial” America to explore what we are really saying when we refuse to talk about race.

    AUDITION REQUIREMENTS
    Please prepare two contrasting monologues. Each piece should be no longer than one minute.

    CHARACTERS
    Jaclyn Spaulding (African American) early 40s Dr.’s newer assistant – seemingly unpredictable at face value

    Ilene Van Meter (Caucasian) late 40s Dr.’s long-term assistant – initially mild-mannered/
    optimistic; becomes untrusting

    Dr. David Williams (Caucasian) late 30s successful, young manipulative Surgeon

    Rose Saunders (Caucasian) 60s elderly patient

    Email questions to info@newventuretheatre.org or call (225) 588-7576

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Hundreds gather inside McKinley High School gym for town talk with President Obama

    More than 700 people, including elected officials, participated in a Town Hall with President Barack Obama, Thursday, Jan. 14. Hundreds more lined the streets or waited at the airport for a glimpse of the outgoing president. But what did he tell the citizens?

    “I heard loudly and clearly today talk of taking ownership of development by committing to learning how to control and master the process of personal and community development,” said attorney Donovan Hudson.

    Here’s the transcript from the meeting:

         THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Louisiana!  (Applause.)  Hello, Baton Rouge!  Geaux Tigers!  (Applause.)  For those of you who are not aware, that’s “geaux” with an “x.”  I got it.

         Can everybody give Che a big round of applause?  (Applause.)  We could not be more proud of her.  I was backstage — I asked her, “Are you nervous?”  She said, no, I got this — (laughter) — I’m fine.  That is a serious leader of the future. And we are so proud of her.  And I want to thank everybody at McKinley for hosting us today.

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    President Obama hugs Che'dra Joseph, McKinley High Student of the Year


         There are a couple of people I want to make sure we acknowledge.  Your Mayor, Kip Holden, is in the house.  (Applause.)  There he is.  We got Congressman Cedric Richmond here — (applause) — who’s got a really cute little boy.  (Laughter.)  And New Orleans Mayor and great friend of mine, Mitch Landrieu is in the house — (applause) — whose son is not so little, but looks pretty cool.  I want to congratulate your new governor who’s going to do outstanding work — (applause) — John Bel Edwards is in the house, and his lovely family.  We are so grateful to have them here.

         Since LSU has pretty good sports teams, historically, I thought I might mention you got an okay basketball player named Ben Simmons in the house.  (Applause.)  His dad played in Australia with my Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan.  So they can hoop.  But I think they would both acknowledge that Ben is better.  (Laughter.)  And it’s wonderful to have him here.

         Now, it is my intention not to give a long speech, because this is sort of a town hall.  I want to spend a little time having a conversation with all of you.  (Applause.)  But I do want to make mention of what your incoming governor is already doing.  He’s already delivering for the people of Louisiana.  This week, he took the bold and wise step to expand Medicaid — (applause) — to cover hundreds of thousands of hardworking Louisianans, providing them with the financial security of health care.  It was the right thing to do.  And, by the way, it will actually help the state’s finances.  And it shows you why elections matter.

    And, right now, we’re hoping to encourage more states to do the right thing.  One of the ways we’re doing that is proposing additional funding to support new states that choose, as John did, to expand Medicaid.  So, I’m just proud of him, and I’m confident that he’s going to do great work. He’s going to do great work.  (Applause.)  And everybody here needs to get behind him because it’s not going to be easy.  He’s coming in a little like I came in, sort of got to clean up some stuff.  (Applause.) 

         Now, I love Louisiana.  (Applause.)  I love Baton Rouge, but this is the first time I’ve been here as President.  I’ve been trying to pack all my fun trips into my last year.  And although I missed the Tigers beating Ole Miss last night, maybe I’ll come back for football season.
    image

    Some of you know I gave my final State of the Union address this week.  (Applause.)  I focused on the fact that we’re going through a time of extraordinary change.  And that’s unsettling.  It can seem sometimes, especially during political season, where everybody is running around saying, oh, everything is terrible and let’s find somebody to blame, that our politics won’t meet the moment.  But what I want folks to know — that’s right, if you have a chair, go ahead and sit down.  If you don’t have a chair, don’t sit down.  (Laughter.)  I don’t want you falling down.  Whoever the first one was who did that, you’re a leader.  (Laughter.) 

    AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We love you!

    THE PRESIDENT:  Love you back.  Thank you.  (Applause.) 

    But what I want people to know is, is that we’ve been through big changes before.  And America always comes out stronger and better, as long as we make decisions together that are designed to seize the future instead of run away from it.  And we’re uniquely positioned to do that.  We’ve got the strongest economy in the world.  We’ve gone through the worst economic crisis of our lifetime, and we have bounced back with 14 million new jobs, cut the unemployment rate in half.  We’re the most powerful country on Earth, capable of meeting any threat.  Our commitment to science, and education, and entrepreneurship, and our diversity make us a perfect match for what’s needed in this new century.

    But our progress is not inevitable.  So we’ve got to answer some big questions. 

    Number one:  How do we make sure that we create an economy where everybody is benefitting, everybody feels secure, everybody has a shot at success, not just some?  That’s question number one. 

    Question number two:  How do we make sure we’ve got an innovation economy and we embrace science and reason and facts, instead of running away from it?

    Number three:  How do we make sure that we keep America safe, not through trying to talk tough, but by being smart?

    Number four:  How do we make sure our politics works, not in a way where everybody agrees — because in a big country like ours, people aren’t going to agree on everything — but so that it is civil and so that it is constructive, and so that we can work together to find solutions to the problems that are not just going to face us, but our kids and our grandkids?

    Now, I tried to give you a sense of how I think we need to answer those questions going forward, but I promised I wasn’t going to talk long because I want to have a chance to hear from you.  I just want to make this point.  We’re pretty close to New Orleans, and I had a chance to go back and travel with Mitch as we were commemorating the anniversary of Katrina.  And if you have any doubt about America’s capacity to overcome anything, you just visit some of those neighborhoods, and you talk to some of those families, and you see the businesses that are thriving and the homes that have been built, and the parishes that have pulled together. 

    And it’s just a reminder of the fact that when we work together, we cannot be stopped.  We cannot be stopped.  We work best as a team.  And it is my ardent hope that, during the course of this year, as long as I have this extraordinary privilege to be your President, that I’m going to be able to encourage more and more of you to get involved and feel that optimism and confidence about where America is headed. 

    So with that, let’s start this conversation.  (Applause.)  And let me say this.  We’ve got mics in the audience.  And we’re going to go boy, girl, boy, girl, so it’s fair.  (Laughter.)  Or girl, boy, girl, boy.  That’s fine.  (Laughter.) 

    AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Girl, girl, girl!

    THE PRESIDENT:  (Laughter.)  She said girl, girl, girl.  Now, that’s not fair.  (Laughter.)  Come on. 

    So what I’m going to do is, people just raise their hands, I will call on you.  A couple things — wait until the mic gets there.  Number two, introduce yourself so we know who you are. Number three, if you keep your question or comment relatively short, then my response, I can’t guarantee I’ll keep it short, but I’ll keep it shorter.  And that way we have a chance to hear from more people.  All right?

    Okay, so let’s see who’s going to go first.  Where’s my mic?  Here we go.  All right, let’s see.  This is a good-looking crowd, too.  (Applause.)

    I don’t know who to call on. That young lady right there in the brown jacket.  Right there.  Yes, you. 

    Okay, hold on.  Wait for the mic.  You didn’t follow instructions.  You’re already — (laughter) — careful.  Careful.  She didn’t go to McKinley, is that what happened?

    Q    No, I didn’t.  (Laughter.) 

    THE PRESIDENT:  All right, go ahead, go ahead.

    Q    My name is Rachel.  I’m from Texas.  And my question — I don’t have one — I just wanted to tell you thank you.

    THE PRESIDENT:  Oh.  Okay, well, that’s sweet.  (Laughter.)  All right, well, she just — she didn’t really have a question, so I’m going to go back to — I’m going to go to this young lady right here in the black and white jacket.  Right there.  Hold on a second.  The mic is coming to you.  It’s just that we’re so packed in, it may take — you can go ahead and pass her the mic.  She looks like she’ll give it back.

    Q    Hi, Mr. President.  My name is Jasmine Elliott (ph), and I am a 10th grade cheerleader here at McKinley High School.  (Applause.)

    THE PRESIDENT:  Yay, all right!  Go Panthers!

    Q    And I love you — me and my family love you so much.  And I want to thank you.

    THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, that’s sweet.

    Q    And as a future broadcast journalist, I would like to ask you two questions.

    THE PRESIDENT:  Okay.

    Q    My first question is:  What are your plans to do when you leave office?  And can you please give my grandmother a hug? (Laughter.)

    THE PRESIDENT:  See, now first of all, I know your grandma put you up to that.  (Laughter.)  So I will give your grandma a hug because you did such a nice job asking the question.  (Applause.)

    In terms of my plans, look, I’ve got so much work to do this next year that — Michelle and I, we haven’t had a chance to really step back and think about it.  But as I said at the State of Union, when I get out, I’m still holding the most important job in a democracy, and that is the office of citizen.  So I will continue to work on the things that Michelle and I care so deeply about.  We want to encourage young people to get involved.  We want to improve education.  We want to make sure that our criminal justice system works the way it should.  We want to make sure that we are promoting science education and learning.  We want to work internationally to help other countries develop. 

    So we’re going to have a busy agenda, but I’m not overthinking that right now because I’ve got a whole bunch of stuff to do between now and next year.  All right?  But thank you for the question.

    All right, it’s a gentleman’s turn.  This man, because he’s got such a sharp bowtie.  Right here.  Yes, all right.  Go ahead.

    Q    Good morning.

         THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning.

         Q    This is a pleasure, sir.

    THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.

    Q    My name is Tremayne Sterling (ph).  I’m from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  Through your entire two terms as President, what would be your biggest regret and why? 

    THE PRESIDENT:  I think it’s a great question.  Although had you been watching my State of Union on Tuesday — (laughter) — he might have known that I actually already answered that question.  (Laughter.)  But that’s okay.  I’m sure there was a good ballgame on that night.  (Laughter.) 

    No, what I told the country — except for you — (laughter) — was that my biggest regret was the fact that politics has become more rancorous during my presidency and more polarized than it was when I came in.  And keeping mind, when I ran, my belief was that there were no red states and blue states.  There wasn’t a black or white or Latino America.  There was a United States of America.  And that continues to be my belief. 

    Now, I have, as President, obviously done soul searching about what are things I could do differently to help bridge some of those divides.  I think part of it had to with when I came in we had a real emergency, and we had to act quickly.  And people in Washington sometimes weren’t always as focused on getting the job done as they were how is this going to position us for future elections. 

    But as I said at the State of Union, I have no doubt that there are things I could have done better.  But what I also say is that this is not something a President can do by him or herself.  When it comes to how we work together, the main impetus for better politics is going to be the American people.  They have to demand it.

    And so if we have voters who are not getting involved, then the people who tend to determine the agenda are the special interests, or money, or power, or the loudest voices, or the most polarizing voices, because a lot of folks — some of the best people, they’re just sitting at home.  And they’re getting cynical about politics, and they don’t get involved.  And then the people who do get involved end up being the folks who aren’t willing to work together.

    It’s important for voters to insist that their elected officials are strong on principle, but also are willing to compromise with people who don’t agree with them.  And if you punish an elected official for even talking to the other side, then it’s going to produce the kind of politics that we have seen in Washington too often.

    So this is an area where I regret.  I’m going to keep on working at it, try to see what more we can do to reach across the aisle to get things done.  I said on Tuesday that I think at the end of last year, maybe we surprised the cynics by getting a budget done.  And we extended tax cuts for working families that were due to expire.  And we were able to continue funding for transportation.  I know that your mayor was talking about how the interstate here narrows, and we may need to do something about it to relieve some traffic.  (Applause.) 

    And those things are not things that should be subject to a lot of Republican and Democratic argument.  Maybe that’s something that we can carry over into this year.

    One area, for example, that there’s been genuine bipartisan interest and support is the idea that we’ve got to reform our criminal justice system.  (Applause.)  That we have to be tough on violent crime, but also be smart when we think about how can we prevent young people from getting into the criminal justice system in the first place.  (Applause.)  How can we provide alternatives for low-level, non-violent drug offenders.  How can we make sure that the sentencing is proportional.  How do we make sure that we’re training folks while they’re incarcerated to get a skill that would allow them to be gainfully employed.  How do we make sure that when they’re released that there is a transition process for them.  How do we lift up all the outstanding employers who are willing to give people second chances.  So there’s a whole slew of work that we could be doing there. 

    And to their credit, we’ve seen some very conservative Republicans and some very liberal Democrats sitting down at the table and trying to work it out.  And that’s an example of where we see some promise.

         Another area is — and I mentioned this at the State of the Union.  Some of you have heard of the Earned Income Tax Credit.  Now, this is a program historically that is supported by Democrats and Republicans.  And it’s a pretty simple idea.  If you work, you shouldn’t be in poverty.  And so we should provide tax breaks to low-income working families so that they don’t say I might as well just be on welfare because I’ll get more benefits than if I’m working.

         Well, the Earned Income Tax Credit creates an incentive to say if you work hard, you’re working full time, but it’s, say, a minimum-wage job, we’re going to give you a chance, if you’ve got kids, to raise that income level, get a tax break.

        The problem is that it does not apply to individuals without children.  And that means a lot of men in that category don’t benefit and young people don’t benefit.  And one of the things we’ve been talking about is if we expand that to reach workers who don’t have children but are also working hard and are in poverty, that could be helpful.

         And these are areas where Cedric — he’s been a leader on criminal justice reform.  He’s working on this, as well.  I know that Mitch has been doing great work when it comes to the criminal justice system in New Orleans.  These are the kinds of areas where just common sense can prevail if we’ve all got a spirit of trying to solve problems instead of just winning elections.

        Okay?  All right.  (Applause.)

         Okay, it’s a young lady’s turn.  You know what, I’m going to call on that little young lady right there.  Yes.  She’s in her daddy’s lap.  And my daughter — my oldest daughter is about to go to college next year.  (Applause.)  And I can’t really talk about it a lot because I start to cry.  (Laughter.)

         Q    My name is Noelle Remeny (ph).  And I’m in the fourth grade, and I’m 10 years old.  And do you think there’s going to be a cure for cancer?  (Applause.)

         THE PRESIDENT:  Well, there you go.  Are you interested in math and science?

         Q    A little bit.

         THE PRESIDENT:  A little bit?  (Laughter.)  I tell you what, it’s going to be young people like you that are going to help cure cancer.  So you better study up on your math and study up on your science.

         But I do think that we are seeing medical breakthroughs right now that we have not seen in my lifetime.  Part of the reason is because — some of you heard of the Human Genome Project.  What happens is that we’re now able to look at not just how cells work, but we’re actually able to track how individual DNA and genetics operates.  And when you do that, it turns out that a cancer cell that I have may be different than a cancer cell that John or somebody else has, and may require different cures.  And certain treatments might work better than other treatments.  And because we’re able to get into the really nitty-gritty of how our bodies work in ways that we haven’t before, we’re starting to see more effective treatments.

         But we have to make a big investment.  And my Vice President, Joe Biden, who I love, suffered the kind of tragedy last year that is unbelievable.  And he managed it with grace.  His son Beau Biden was one of the finest men I knew.  And so I thought it was entirely appropriate for Joe Biden, who has seen this and gone through it, to lead this effort like a moon launch.  We’re going to double down on medical research.  We’re going to look at the best — we’re going to gather the best researchers, the best scientists, and we are going to go after this thing.

         It probably won’t be cured in my lifetime.  But I think ti will be cured in yours.  And that’s why we got to get started now.  (Applause.)

         All right?  Okay, it’s a gentleman’s turn.  This gentleman back here.  Right there.  Yes, sir.  You.  (Laughter.)  Hold on. The mic is coming.  The mic is coming.

         Q    Mr. President, first of all, I’m Greg Gavins (ph).  I’m the proud father of one of your special, great Secret Service.

         THE PRESIDENT:  Outstanding.

         Q    I have a question for you.  Since you can’t run again for another term, is there any way that we as a group can talk the First Lady into running?

         THE PRESIDENT:  No.  (Laughter and applause.)  No, no, no.  No, no.

         Q    I know that’s right.  (Laughter.)

         THE PRESIDENT:  Let me tell you, there are three things that are certain in life.  (Laughter.) Death, taxes, and Michelle is not running for President.  (Laughter.)  That I can tell you.

         But you know what, the First Lady, though, the work she’s done around reducing childhood obesity, the work that she and Jill Biden have done on military families and making sure they get support, I could not be prouder of her.  And I am certain that she’s going to be really active as a First Lady.

         Not only is she going to be a very young ex-First Lady, but unlike me, she looks young.  (Laughter.)  I was looking at a wedding picture — actually, we found the old video from our wedding.  We’ve been married 23 years now.  (Applause.)  And so my mother-in-law had been going through some storage stuff and found our wedding video.  And I popped it in — and I look like a teenager — and realized, boy, I sure have aged.  (Laughter.)

    AUDIENCE MEMBER:  (Inaudible.)

    THE PRESIDENT:  I know that, though.  (Laughter.)

         But Michelle looked — she looked identical.  Looked identical.

         Q    We’re proud of her.

         THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I’m proud of her, too, because most importantly she’s been an unbelievable mom, which is why my daughters turned out so well.  (Applause.)

         All right, it is a young woman’s turn.  This young lady right here.  Go ahead.  Yes, you. Yes, you’ve been raising your hand.  (Laughter.)  Okay.  But hold on.  The mic is coming.  Go ahead.

         Q    Hi, my name is Imani Maxberry (ph).  I’m a coastal environmental science major at LSU.

         THE PRESIDENT:  Outstanding.

         Q    One, I want to say thank you for rejecting Keystone pipeline.  (Applause.)  And two, I want to ask:  While you’ve been in office, what environmental impact — what environmental issue do you think has impacted you the most and should be more brought to the public?

         THE PRESIDENT:  Okay.  That’s a great question, and I’m proud that you’re doing that work.  That’s important.  (Applause.)

         First of all, it’s important for us to understand how much environmental progress we’ve made in my lifetime.  And the reason is, sometimes when we talk about the environment, it sounds like something far away.  But we don’t realize — we don’t remember what we’ve accomplished already.

         In the 1970s, in California, there would be regular days where people did not go outside.  When Ronald Reagan was governor in California, there were regularly days where the smog was so bad, it was like it is in Beijing now. People just wouldn’t go outside.  And if you had asthma or some respiratory disease, you might die.

         I remember as recently as 1979, when I first started college — I started college in Los Angeles — when I went running, the first week I was there, after about five minutes I’d start feeling a burning in my chest.  And it was just me sucking in soot and smog.  And now you go there and that smog isn’t there.  And the reason is because we instituted things like catalytic converters and unleaded gasoline.  And we changed the technologies to reduce smog.

         It used to be that places like the Cuyahoga River around Cleveland caught fire it was so polluted.  Caught fire.  No, this is no joke.  And now you go there and people are able to use it.  Same thing with the Chicago River.  Now people are kayaking and fishing.

         So the point is, is that we actually can make progress when we make an effort because of our technology and our innovation.  And every time we’ve taken a step to try to clean up our air or our water or our environment, there are all kinds of people who say this is going to kill jobs, we can’t afford it, can’t do it, it’s going to cost too much.  And then, after we do it, we look back and say, you know, that didn’t cost as much as we thought, it happened quicker than we did.  Our businesses figured out how to do it and to make money doing it at the same time.  That’s what I mean when I say an innovation economy.  We’ve got to be confident about our ability to solve any problem if we put our minds to it.

         Now, the answer to your question right now is, what I am very much concerned about is climate change.  And there are folks who are still denying that this is a problem or that we can do anything about it.  Look, if 99 doctors told you that you have diabetes and you need to change your eating habits and get some exercise and lose some weight, you may decide not to do it because you’re stubborn.  But don’t say they’re wrong because the science in unsure.  This is happening.  And, by the way, if you live in Louisiana, you should especially be concerned about this because you are right next to some water that has a tendency to heat up, and that then creates hurricanes.  And as oceans rise, that means that the amount of land that is getting gobbled up continuously in this state is shrinking — the land mass — and it’s going to have an impact.

         Now, we can build things and we can fortify things, and we can do things smarter, and we can control how development happens, and we can restore wetlands.  All those things make a difference.  But ultimately, we got to do something about making sure that ocean levels don’t rise four, five, six, eight feet, because if they do, this state is going to have some big problems — bigger problems.

         So what we’ve done is, we’ve gotten together with 200 other nations, American leadership, to say all of us have to start bringing down the carbon pollution that we send in the atmosphere.  And here in the United States, there are two main ways we can do that.  Number one is our power plants; we’ve got to start using cleaner energy.  Number two, we’ve got to start promoting solar and wind, which create jobs.  And we’re a leader in this technology as long as we start investing in it.

         And that transition from old, dirty fuels to clean fuels, that’s going to be tough.  A lot of people make money in the coal industry, for example.  A lot of people have worked there, historically.  But now you have actually have more people working in solar than you do in coal.  Those communities that are reliant on coal, we should help them get a jump on making money in wind power and solar power.  Those are hardworking, good people.  Let’s not have them stuck in old jobs that are going to be slowly declining.  Let’s get them in the new jobs that are going to be going up.

         And then, in our transportation sector, we need to continue to build on the things we’ve done since I’ve been President — doubling fuel efficiency standards on cars, promoting electric cars.  All this stuff adds up.  And the goods new is businesses can succeed and we can make money doing it at the same time.  But don’t think that this is not a problem for all of us.  This is the main message I have.  That young lady was asking about curing cancer — well, we might cure cancer, but if temperatures have gone up two, three degrees around the planet, four degrees, and oceans are rising, we’re going to have more problems than medical science can cure.  We got to make that investment now.  And we can do it.

         All right.  Good question.  This gentleman right here.  Hold on, I got a mic right there.  How you doing?

         Q    I can hold it.

         THE PRESIDENT:  Go ahead.

         Q    I’m a big kid.  (Laughter.)  Well, maybe I’m not a big kid.  My name is Alan Turum (ph) from Youngstown, Ohio.  You’ve been here many times in helping with the steel mills get back on track.  That’s all good.  And in your defense, my business is doing good, making money, growing for the last 10 years.  And I got a lot of friends that have businesses, and they’re doing real well, too.  For a lot of people that are complaining, there’s a lot of people doing well.  So I think if you hustle, you can make good.

         THE PRESIDENT:  Absolutely.

         Q    But my question to you is, you’re on your last year — is there any one big thing that you’d like to see happen before you leave the office?

         THE PRESIDENT:  Good.  Well, first of all, what’s your business?

         Q    I got a couple of businesses.  I manufacture Halloween props, and I own a haunted house and hay ride in Lordstown, Ohio, which you’ve been there many times, to the car plant.

         THE PRESIDENT:  I’ve been, yeah.

         Q    It’s called Fear Forest.  Maybe if you make it back into Youngstown in October, you can come check it out.  But I make Halloween props and I like to scare people.

         THE PRESIDENT:  (Laughter.)  So that’s kind of interesting.  That’s fun.  You sell a lot of Obama masks?  (Laughter.)

         Q    Hey, Obama is not scary.  So –

         THE PRESIDENT:  There you go, all right.  (Applause.)  I don’t think so.

         The things that I talked about in the State of the Union are all things that I think are possible.  Some of them I can get done on my own.  So I’ll give you a couple of examples.

         We need to revamp how our information systems, our IT systems in government work.  This is one of the areas where we’re — the biggest gap between government and the private sector is — if you just want to order a pizza, you’ve got your smartphone and you just — and the pizza shows up.  You want to buy an airline ticket, you punch in a couple things and suddenly if you go to the airport it’s all printing out.  And the systems in government are really old.

         Now, that causes two problems.  Number one is, they’re less safe and secure than they should be because they’re old.  They’re outdated systems.  So it’s easier for folks to try to hack into them, break into them, and we’re constantly putting patches up.

         The second thing is, it just means that things are slower for customers.  And I want to make sure government is in the 21st century — and we’re systematically going agency through agency.  If you want to get a small business loan from the SBA, I want you to be able to go to one website, in English, be able to figure out what you need to do, apply online, get that money, start that business, put people to work.  (Applause.)  And right now, we’re continually trying to streamline that process.

         And we’ve made some good progress.  But that’s an example of something that we can do administratively.  The same is true, by the way, for the VA.  You’ll remember — we are so proud of our veterans and our young men and women who served.  (Applause.)  And we got some folks here looking sharp in uniform that we are grateful for their service.  (Applause.)  And we have put more resources and provided more support to — and increased budgets for the VA than any administration in history.  We have cut backlogs.  We included folks who had been affected by Agent Orange.  We have boosted the resources available for folks suffering from PTSD.  We are ending veterans’ homelessness.  We’ve made some huge investments, made really good progress.

         But you’ll remember that story that came out last year, or a year and a half ago, in Phoenix, where folks were waiting so long to try to get an appointment that — and many of these were elderly, aging folks, and they were dying before they got an appointment.  And it was unacceptable.

         When we did an investigation of what had happened — and what was worse was some of the administrators there were hiding what was going on, and manipulating sort of records in ways that meant they had to be fired.  But when you looked at what was going on, a lot of it had to do with the fact that they had a system where a veteran would call in trying to get an appointment, somebody was writing it down on paper, then they were tapping it into some 30-year-old computer system that would then print out something that then would get walked over to someplace, that then they’d have to — it was a mess.

         And so we’ve had to make big investments in trying to clean up that whole process.  So that’s what we can do without Congress.

         Some things I think we can do with Congress I’ve already mentioned.  I think we can get criminal justice reform passed.  I think that we can potentially do some work on what I just identified, the Earned Income Tax Credit, that would help millions of people around the country who are working hard get out of poverty.  And on the issue of medicine, I think that we’re seeing some bipartisan work to try to bring together all the resources we have around these new medical breakthroughs that could potentially — not just affect things like cancer, but also Alzheimer and Parkinson’s, and a lot of diseases that people suffer from.  It’s a good story, and it’s not as politically controversial as some other issues.

         Now, there are some things I’d love to do, like raising the minimum wage for everybody.  (Applause.)  I’d love to get immigration reform passed.  But I’m realistic that Congress probably will not act on some of those more controversial issues.  That’s where people are going to have to make a decision in this election.  That’s what elections are about.  You’ve got to decide which direction America needs to go in.

         Okay.  Let’s see.  These folks have been neglected, so I’ve got to pay them a little attention here.  It’s a young lady’s turn.  Well, you’ve got a beautiful dress on.  Let’s just call on you.  There you go.  (Applause.)

         Q    Mr. President, I’m Judge Trudy M. White, and I’m the district court judge here in the 19th judicial district court.  (Applause.)

         THE PRESIDENT:  Good to see you, Judge.

         Q    I am also the reentry court judge for our parish.  And I did notice when you spoke at the State of the Union, you made your address, that the first issue that you did address was criminal justice reform.  I’d like to know, as reentry court judge, what incentives could you offer our governor — our new governor and governors across the United States that would provide opportunities for felons who are returning as they exit the criminal justice system?  (Applause.)

         THE PRESIDENT:  Well, Judge, you probably know more than I do. (Laughter.)

         Q    Can my people get with your people to get those incentives down here?  (Laughter and applause.)

         THE PRESIDENT:  Absolutely.  I’ll have my people call your people.  (Laughter.)  But I will tell you what I know I’ve seen with my own eyes.

         I was in Camden with a fellow federal district court judge who had taken — who had worked with the U.S. attorney there to supplement some of the reentry programs that were already there with some grants.  And this judge, she’s a wonderful woman, just like you.  And she had this terrific lead probation officer.  And together, what they had done is just made sure that anybody who got released, the day they were out, they were getting a call from the probation officer.  And the probation officer was saying, all right, what do you need?  Do you need clothes?  What are you doing in terms of a place to stay?   How are you going to think about getting your résumé together?  Do you have an alarm clock?  Just basic stuff.  How are you going to get around?

         Because so often, what happens is these young people are getting released and they’re just dropped off in the neighborhood where they were.  Oftentimes, part of the reason they got down a wrong path in the first place is the — mom and dad might not have been there, or they might have moved by now and so they’re literally all alone.

         And so this young man who was there, who had gone through this process, he had been arrested when he was 17, and had a record that accumulated, then arrested at 27; spent 10 years in federal prison.  Was released at 37.  And he really decided, I want to change my life.  He had a spiritual awakening.  And he started just pounding the pavement, and got a job at a fast food place.  And he was describing what it was like — he had been doing this about three months and he still didn’t have enough money for rent, and the halfway house that he was staying at, it was about to kick him out because they only have a certain number of slots, and you don’t stay there long enough.

         And he was saying how his old friends, the drug dealers and the gang bangers who he had used to run with, they would come up every once in a while, and he’d be sitting there in his uniform flipping burgers and serving food, and they’d be talking to him — hey, man, any time you’re ready.  Those are the only clothes you got?  Those are the same shoes we saw you in 10 years ago; this is the new style.  And that temptation for him was powerful.

         Now, this is where a well-designed reentry program comes in, because what happened was, the judge, the probation officer, they worked with him, signed him up.  The judge, unfortunately, because the program didn’t have a lot of money, had to basically do a collection, dig into her own pocket.  But they got the fees to have him go study at a community college to be an emergency medical technician.  And he ended up graduating from this class, working for a private health firm, and then by the time he was sitting next to me three or four years later — or maybe five years later, he’s now working for the county as an EMT, fully trained, saving lives.  (Applause.)

         But the point is that it required intensive intervention and support and help.  But what a smart investment that was.  Because if we spent whatever it cost during those one, two, three years of transition to help that person get their life straight, we might have just saved ourselves another 10 years or 15 years or 20 years of incarcerating him on taxpayer expense.  (Applause.)

         So it made me realize that if we really want to be smart on crime — you’ve got, let’s say, a maximum minimum sentence — mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years for some drug-related drug — if we reduce the amount of time that they’re incarcerated, took all those savings and we took just some of that for one, two years of reentry programs that are highly supervised, then we’re going to get better results — safer streets, better citizens — because he’s now paying taxes as an EMT instead of taking taxes as a ward of the state.  Less violence.  More hope.  He’s got an opportunity now to be a father, as opposed to an absent presence in a child’s life.  That’s how we rebuild communities.  And that’s why this is such a promising area.

    And as I said I want to make sure to acknowledge, this is an area where there’s been some really powerful bipartisan, interesting coalitions.  I think the evangelical community, because they have a lot of strong prison ministries, they care about this, they believe in redemption and second chances.  And so they’ve gotten involved.  And you’ve got libertarians who just don’t like the idea of the state spending that much money on prisons.  They’ve gotten involved.  And so there’s a lot of good work.  And as I said, Cedric has been a leader in this process, so we’ve got to see if we can make this happen, all right?  But my people will get with your people.  (Applause.)

    That redhead right there.  It’s good having hair like that.  You stand out in a crowd.

    Q    My name is Martin Brown (ph).  I’m from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  And my question is about education.  Education is one of the most important things in achieving equal opportunity.  And in the past decades, we’ve seen desegregation orders lifted and we’ve seen a re-segregation in the South.  Furthermore, there’s huge disparities in resources for different students in different school districts and parishes.  And I was wondering what can the federal government do, what have you done, and what do you think should happen in the future to resolve these issues that we have been fighting for decades.

    THE PRESIDENT:  Are you a teacher, by the way?

    Q    I’m not — I’m a student.

    THE PRESIDENT:  Where are you going to school?

    Q    LSU.

    THE PRESIDENT:  Fantastic.  What are you studying?

    Q    Math and economics.

    THE PRESIDENT:  All right.  Well, maybe you’ll solve this problem.  (Laughter.)  Well, thanks for the question.  It’s a great question.

    I talked about this at the town hall — or in the State of the Union.  This economy will become more and more knowledge-based during the course of our lifetimes, our children’s lifetimes, our grandchildren’s lifetimes.  There’s no denying it.  That is not going to change. And so when people talk about how the economy is changing and how come we can’t have it the way it was back in the ‘50s and ‘60s, it used to be that if you were willing to work hard, you could drop out of high school, walk into the factory, say “I’m ready to work,” and if you showed yourself to be a hard worker, you could actually build a middle-class life on the factory floor.  And that’s great.

    But if you go into a factory today, it’s full of computers and robots.  And if you don’t know math and you don’t know science, you can’t get that job on the factory floor.  And, by the way, because of automation and technology, when I go to a car plant — and we sold more cars — U.S. automakers sold more cars last year than any time in history.  (Applause.)  It has come all the way back.  It has rehired hundreds of thousands of folks.  We created 900,000 manufacturing jobs.  But you go into a plant, and it’s just quiet and clean, and probably — if you used to have a thousand people in that plant, now you’ve got a hundred, just because it’s so automated.

    And the point is, you are not going to be able to build a middle-class life in this society unless you have some education and skills that you can continually enhance and retool throughout your career.  So, young people, I’m going to be honest — I’m not going to call him out — but if you’re Ben Simmons, maybe you’ll do fine not hitting the books — although he’s a very fine student, I’m sure.  But my point is, unless you are one in a million, you better be working hard.  You better be studying.  (Applause.)  And it’s not going to stop.

    Now, the point you made is exactly right.  How do we make sure everybody gets that opportunity?  Because we know what the ingredients are.  We know that early childhood education makes a huge difference, the kind of start that young people get.  (Applause.)  We know that poor kids oftentimes are not starting off in school with the same vocabulary because they haven’t heard as many words, which means we’ve got to train parents, not just teachers, to help get kids rolling.  We know that schools that have great teachers and high standards, and are creative and have the best technologies that are used the right way make a difference.  That high expectations make a difference.  So, we know all these things.
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    But the way that education is America has been organized is local school districts, local control, and local property funding as the primary way of supporting schools.  And that has led to big disparities in every state in the country.  So the federal government can’t get at that.  What the federal government has done and can do is, through programs like Title I funding, we provide additional money to school districts that have a high proportion of low-income kids to try to give them more resources.  The federal government — what I’ve done during my administration is worked with states and local school districts to give them incentives to adopt best practices to help develop and train teachers to more effectively teach kids to make sure that we’ve got high expectations and high standards.

    I just signed, last year, a reform of No Child Left Behind that had led to a lot of over-testing and stress among teachers, but had not necessarily improved learning.  But ultimately, it’s going to be up to states and local school districts to make a decision about how much do we care about equities in funding within states.  That’s not something the federal government can force states to do.

         There was a case way back in the ‘70s that was brought before the U.S. Supreme Court making the argument that it was unconstitutional to have this property tax-based system of funding education.  And the Supreme Court said it’s not unconstitutional; it’s up to states to make a decision on what they want to do.  Some state supreme courts have said it’s unconstitutional to fund education that way.

    But if you don’t have states making those decisions, the federal government can’t force them to.  We can help.  We can give incentives.  But federal funding for education accounts only about for 7 percent of total education funding.  The main thing we can do is hold up best practices, show people this is what works, this is what doesn’t, and then the people of those communities have to determine this is what we want to do to make a real serious change.

         Now, one last point I’m going to make on education — making sure folks like Che can afford college is critical.  (Applause.)  And if I had my wish about what I could get Congress to do — I mentioned a whole bunch of issues — one of them also would be the proposal I put forward:  two years of community college at no cost for responsible students.  (Applause.)

    Tennessee has already adopted this.  Tennessee has already adopted this proposal.  The city of Chicago is working to adopt it.  So you’ve got Democrats and Republicans who have seen the wisdom of this.  If young people can go to a community college for two years at no cost, that means they can get a lot of credits out of the way.  They can then transfer to a four-year institution.  But they’ve cut their costs in half.  And this is an affordable proposal.  We propose paying for it essentially by closing some corporate tax loopholes and some tax breaks for hedge funds.  And it’s enough money to actually make sure that every young person has at least that baseline.  And that’s part of the reason why America became an economic superpower — because earlier than anybody else, we said we’re going to give everybody universal high school education.  Now, the next step is everybody in addition to high school education should be able to get that two years of post-secondary education, as well.  (Applause.)

    All right?  How much time do I have?  I got to check with my people.  One or two more questions.  Okay, this young lady right there.  You can stop jumping.  (Laughter.)  Yes, I just called — but do you actually have a question, or were you just jumping?  (Laughter.)  All right, where is the mic?  Right here.  Right here.  Yes, you.  I don’t know why you’re surprised.  (Laughter.)  You raised your hand.

    Q    Thank you so much for taking my question.  First off, my name is Angenay Turner (ph).  I’m a law student at Tulane, in New Orleans, in the Big Easy.

    THE PRESIDENT:  There you go.

    Q    I’m here with my little sister and one of my other friends from Tulane who also went to Columbia for undergrad.

    THE PRESIDENT:  Okay.

    Q    First off, I just want to say that we’re very inspired by you and the First Lady.

         THE PRESIDENT:  That’s nice.

         Q    And you are our biggest inspirations.  And we want to be just like you guys, so can you help us?  Give us some tips.  (Laughter.)

         THE PRESIDENT:  I’m sorry, what was the question?  (Laughter.)

         Q    The question is, can you help us be more like you and the First Lady and give us some tips to be –

         THE PRESIDENT:  Some tips?

         Q    Yes.

         THE PRESIDENT:  Well, look, I will say this — Michelle and I, we’ve been through an extraordinary journey.  When we think about where we’ve come from, Michelle grew up on the South Side of Chicago.  Her mom was a secretary.  Her dad worked at the water filtration plant.  Neither of them ever went to college.  They lived on the second floor of her mom’s sister’s house, a little bungalow.  She was — we were talking the other day, she was watching HGTV.  She likes watching HGTV.  And for those of you who don’t know, Home and Garden TV.  (Laughter.)

         And I guess there was this show about this so-called movement or trend towards tiny houses.  So people get these little, tiny — some of them they put on — hitch on the back of their car, some of them they’re already there.  She said, I didn’t know this was a movement because we lived in a tiny house. (Laughter.)  We just thought that’s how you live.  We didn’t know this was a — we were cutting edge.  (Laughter.)

         And so Michelle, her brother, her dad, her mom — her dad, by the way, had Multiple Sclerosis, so he’s going to work every day — he had to wake up an hour early to get to work because it took a long time for him to just button his shirt and get in the car, and then get out of the car, and then get to his job.

         And in that second floor, with — and I know, because Michelle and I, right after we got married, we stayed in that same place before we were able to save up enough to buy our place.  These two folks were able to raise these incredible young people, Michelle and her brother, who both ended up going to college and both had these extraordinary careers.
       
         Now, I say all that because Michelle would be the first to say — and I certainly would be the first to say — the only reason this happened was because there were people who invested in us.  (Applause.)  So there were park programs in Chicago, public park programs where she could be part of dance classes, and her brother could be in Little League.  And there were accelerated programs at her public elementary school where she had teachers who really took extra time.  And then there was a magnet school that she was able to attend, and that was able to get her prepared for college.  And then she got student loans and support in order to be able to go to college and go to law school.  Although she tells the story about how her dad, he couldn’t really contribute much, but he insisted on writing something, a check, to help support that college education for her and her brother because he knew what it was worth.

         And so when you ask sort of the main tip I have — look, we benefitted because somebody invested in us.  (Applause.)  The most important tip I would have is make sure not only are you working hard to deserve that investment, but that you’re also investing in the next generation coming up behind you.  (Applause.)  If you do that, then you’re going to do great things.  Your sister will do great things.


         And the one other thing I tell young people all the time — don’t worry so much about what you want to be, worry about what you want to do.  (Applause.)  Worry about the kind of person you want to be and what you want to accomplish.  And the reason I say that is because a lot of times people ask me, oh, I’m interested in politics, how can I get — I say, well, let me tell you, the people who are most successful in politics and business and whatever, they don’t start off saying, I want to be President or governor; they start off by saying, I want to give people an education, or I want to make sure that folks have jobs, or I believe in justice under the law.  And they pursue a goal.  They’re trying to get something done.

         A byproduct of that is that they may find themselves in positions of authority or power or influence.  But even if you never get elected to something, if you’re interested in the environment, you don’t have to be the head of the EPA to make a difference.  You might organize in a local community to clean up a site and plant gardens and make sure that the water is clean.  (Applause.)  And you can look back and then say, wow, what an amazing life I’ve had and look at all the difference that I’ve made.
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         And I’ll tell you, the same is true in business.  The most successful business people — if you talk to somebody like a Bill Gates, they don’t start off saying “I want to be the second-richest man in the world.”  They start off saying, “I really want to figure out this computer thing.”  “I want to make this thing work better.”  “I’m excited or interested in how we can solve this problem.”  And then, because they’re so passionate about it and they’ve worked so hard at it, it turns out they make something really good, and everybody else says, I want to be part of that.  That, I think, is a good tip as well.

         All right.  I’ve only got time for one more question.  It’s a young man’s turn and he’s right in front, and he looks very sharp.  He’s got his tie on and everything.

         Q    How you doing, Mr. President?

         THE PRESIDENT:  How you doing?  What’s your name?

         Q    My name is Anthony King (ph).  I am an 18-year-old mass communications major and I go to the Southern University and A&M College.  (Applause.)

         THE PRESIDENT:  Okay.

         Q    Mr. President, first I wanted to say thanks for being an inspiration, because I aspire to be what you are in the next 30 years, and I know I will be there.

         THE PRESIDENT:  Okay.

         Q    But one of my main questions for you, sir, Mr. President — I’m going to an HBCU institute — Southern University. Most times, when I go recruit off of high schools, most of the time a lot of them say, oh, I don’t want to go to an HBCU college; I feel like if I go to an HBCU, I won’t get as many opportunities as a student at university as LSU or Tulane.  So what is your take of — or advice to students like me, thousands of students like me who go to HBCUs, and us finishing the course in order to be great leaders in this society?  (Applause.)

         THE PRESIDENT:  Okay.  See, you got some folks voting for you already.

         Well, first of all, the role of the historically black colleges and universities in producing our leadership and expanding opportunity — training doctors and teachers and lawyers and ministers who change the landscape of America — I hope most people know that story, and if not, you better learn it.  Because it has been powerful and continues to be a powerful tradition.

         And I will tell you that if you have done well at an HBCU and graduated, and you go to an employer and are making the kind of presentation you make or a Morehouse man makes or a Spelman young lady makes, you will do just fine.  I don’t think it’s true that actually people don’t take — or discount that tradition.  And you will be credentialed.  You’ll succeed.

         I do think that there’s a range of challenges that HBCUs face.  Some are doing great; some are having more difficulty.  And some of that’s good.  Look — or some of it is the result of good things.  We don’t live in a society where African Americans are restricted in what colleges they can go to.  And I want them to be able to go to an LSU or a Tulane as well as a Southern, as well as a Morehouse, as well as a Howard or a Spelman.  So more opportunities open up — that’s good.

    We have been very supportive of HBCUs over the last several years.  And to their credit, the previous administration had supported them, as well.  There are some HBCUs that are having trouble with graduation rates.  And that is a source of concern.  And what we’ve said to those HBCUs is we want to work with you, but we don’t want a situation in which young people are taking out loans, getting in debt, thinking that they’re going to get a great education and then halfway through they’re dropping out.

         Now, some of it is those HBCUs may be taking chances on some kids that other schools might not.  And that’s a positive thing, and that has to be taken into account.  But we also have to make sure that colleges — any college, HBCU or non-HBCU — take seriously the need to graduate that student and not load them up with debt.

         Everybody needs a college education or a secondary — an education beyond high school.  If it’s a community college, if it’s a technical school, if it’s a training program, you’re going to need more training as your career goes on.

         But I don’t want you taking out a Pell grant or a bunch of — not a Pell grant — like a federal loan or a private loan, and you walk out with $50,000, $60,000, $100,000 worth of debt, and you didn’t get your degree.  So we are working very hard with every school, all colleges and universities, not just to reduce costs, but also to increase graduation rates, give students a better sense as they come in — here’s what it’s going to take for you to finish; here’s why you got to not lollygag and not take enough credits and think going to college is about partying, because it’s actually about getting your degree.  (Applause.) And we want students and parents to be better informed about that process ahead of time.

         All right, listen, you guys have been wonderful.  (Applause.) Michelle, Sasha, Malia, Bo, Sunny, they all send their love.  But I want — before we go, I want to remind you of what I said.  Our system of government only works when you are involved not just by voting, but by being informed and staying involved throughout the process.  Your governor, your mayor, your congressman — they all want to do right by you.  But there are going to be challenges.  There are going to be folks who want to stop progress.  There are going to be people who like the status quo.  There’s always going to be in this democracy countervailing pressures.  And if you want to see change, you’ve got to help make it happen.

         When I ran for office in 2007, 2008, I did not say, “Yes, I can.”  I said –

         AUDIENCE:  Yes, we can!

         THE PRESIDENT:  Yes, we can, people.  God bless you.  Love you.  (Applause.)  Thank you, New Orleans.  God bless America.  (Applause)

    Video of the town hall is available at https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLA5OX3MQc4

    ONLINE: See photos at the Jozef Syndicate.

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    Between the Lines book store names ‘Best Books of 2015′

    Baton Rouge bookstore owner Kim Knight said Between the Lines bookstore is the headquarters for book and literary lovers. Located at 4242 Government Street, the store provides connections between authors, readers, book clubs, the community and the world through its online presence.

    Knight released a short list of the best six books of 2015.

    Children’s
    16 trombone shortyTrombone Shorty by Troy Andrews and illustrator Bryan Collier. Hailing from the Tremé neighborhood in New Orleans, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews has created a lively picture book autobiography about how he followed his dream of becoming a musician, despite the odds, until he reached international stardom. Trombone Shorty is a celebration of the rich cultural history of New Orleans and the power of music.

    16 Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton PoetPoet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton by author-illustrator Don Tate. In the nineteenth century, North Carolina slave George Moses Horton taught himself to read and earned money to purchase his time away from his master though not his freedom. Horton became the first African American to be published in the South, protesting slavery in the form of verse.

    Young Adult Fiction
    16 Gone Crazy in AlabamaGone Crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams Garcia. Bestselling author Rita Williams-Garcia tells the story of the Gaither sisters, who are about to learn what it’s like to be fish out of water as they travel from the streets of Brooklyn to the rural South for the summer of a lifetime. Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern are off to Alabama to visit their grandmother, Big Ma, and her mother, Ma Charles. As Delphine hears about her family history, she uncovers the surprising truth that’s been keeping the sisters apart. But when tragedy strikes, Delphine discovers that the bonds of family run deeper than she ever knew possible.

    16 all american boysAll American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. In an unforgettable new novel from award-winning authors Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, two teens—one Black, one White—grapple with the repercussions of a single violent act that leaves their school, their community, and, ultimately, the country bitterly divided by racial tension.

     

    Adult Fiction
    16 Forty AcresForty Acres by Dwayne Alexander Smith. A young Black attorney, Martin Grey, confronts issues of race and power as he uncovers a shocking conspiracy. He finds out that his glittering new friends are part of a secret society dedicated to the preservation of the institution of slavery—but this time around, the Black men are called “Master.” A novel of rage and compassion, good and evil, trust and betrayal, Forty Acres is the thought-provoking story of one man’s desperate attempt to escape the clutches of a terrifying new moral order.

    16 The Ultimate BetrayalThe Ultimate Betrayal by Kimberla Lawson Roby. It’s been four years since 28-year old Alicia Black, daughter of Reverend Curtis Black, divorced her second husband, the most womanizing and corrupt man she has ever known. Since then, Alicia has been dating her first husband, Phillip Sullivan, a wonderfully kind and true man of God whom she’d hurt terribly by cheating on him. Alicia has worked hard to prove herself worthy of his trust once more, and when he asks her to marry him again, she couldn’t be happier. But Levi Cunningham, the drug dealer Alicia had an extramarital affair with, has just been released from prison, and he has completely turned his life around for the better. Still head-over-heels in love with Alicia, he will do whatever is necessary to win her back. Remarrying Phillip is the one thing Alicia has wanted for years, but she can’t get Levi out of her mind.

    These books are available at Between the Lines Bookstore or online at https://betweenthelinesbookstore.mybooksandmore.com

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  • We are looking for Babies

    Babies of 2015 The deadline to have your 2015 baby featured in the January 2916 issue of The Drum is December 15. Submit this form on the submit news page and upload your photo or email Zenobia Reed at news@thedrumnewspaper.info.

     

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  • ,

    Former SU history professor Arthur Tolson passes away, services planned Nov. 30

    BATON ROUGE–Arthur L. Tolson, Ph.D, a longtime faculty member in the Southern University Baton Rouge Department of History, died Wednesday, November 18, 2015, in Baton Rouge. He was 91.

    SU System President-Chancellor Ray L. Belton issues the following statement and condolences:  “The Southern University System is tremendously saddened by the passing of former history professor Dr. Arthur Tolson who served as a faculty member in the Department of History at Southern University for 45 years. A true scholar and intellectual, Dr. Tolson touched the lives of countless students and was a trusted mentor to many of his colleagues and fellow SU faculty members. His legacy of teaching and commitment remains an exemplary model for others. We extend our deepest sympathy to Dr. Tolson’s family, colleagues, and friends.”

    The retired SU professor was the son of Melvin B. Tolson an American Modernist poet, educator, columnist, and politician who is the protagonist of the 2007 biopic “The Great Debaters.” The film is based on his [Melvin Tolson Sr.] work with students at predominantly Black Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, and their debate with University of Southern California in the 1930s.

    image

    Arthur Tolson, Ph.D., along with Denzel Washington who portrayed his father Melvin Tolson in The Great Debaters

    “Dr. Arthur Tolson was truly a mentor and an inspiration to numerous students,” said Shawn Comminey, SUBR history chair. “His philosophy, wisdom, humor; the encouragement and support he displayed through the years, go without saying.”

    According to a 2008 SU Digest article, Arthur Tolson made history as the first Black to attain a master’s degree in history from Oklahoma State University and a doctorate in history from the University of Oklahoma.

    Share your memories of Dr. Tolson below along with photos (email to news@thedrumnewspaper.info) for his commemorative page.

    Funeral Arrangements for Dr. Arthur L. Tolson

    Southern University Baton Rouge
    Monday, November 30, 2015

    Lying in Repose
    4 p.m. – 7 p.m.
    Royal Cotillion Ballroom
    Smith-Brown Memorial Student Union
    Southern University and A&M College
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70813

    Funeral Service
    7 p.m.
    Royal Cotillion Ballroom
    Smith-Brown Memorial Student Union
    Interment
    Green Acres Memorial Gardens
    Tulsa, Oklahoma

    Arrangements
    Treasures of Life, Center for Life Funeral Services
    315 East Airline Highway
    Gramercy, Louisiana  70052
    225.258.4039

    Family requests in lieu of flowers, forward all donations to: Treasures of Life, Center for Life Funeral Services

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  • ,,,,

    Quinton Jason turned love of the Web into a life-changing career

    Quinton Jason was first drawn to the instant gratification of coding in a high school computer literacy class. What started as an interest grew to a passion, which eventually led him to graduate with a computer science degree. However, in the years that followed, Quinton drifted away from the industry. Instead, he dabbled in retail work, the food industry, and telemarketing, but continually found himself uninspired and unfulfilled.

    When a position as a customer support technician led Quinton back to the keyboard, he made the decision to return to his original career path and chose the East Baton Rouge Parish Library and Treehouse to help him accomplish that. Before long, Quinton had gained a solid foundation of skills and was ready to embark on a career in the web industry.

    Today, Quinton is the interactive director at Xdesign in Baton Rouge. He has also taken his love for the web one step further by speaking at tech conferences, including Future Insights Live 2015. Quinton is proud of his new career path and is embracing the opportunity to share his knowledge and passion for the industry he’d always dreamed of being a part of.

    Read Faye Bridge’s interview with Quinton on TeamTreehouse.com

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  • ,,

    Community asked to complete online survey on EKL site land use designs

    NORTH BATON ROUGE ELECTED OFFICIALS AND other community leaders and more than 100 stakeholders gathered at the S. E. Mackey Center to discuss their ideas and preferences of the former Earl K. Long Medical Center site at 5825 Airline Highway. The public input received during the March meeting served as a critical first step in understanding the community’s vision.

    Landscape architect Diane Jones Allen, D. Eng., of DesignJones, LLC , presented two LSU student designs completed over the summer which included the ideas and wishes expressed during the fi rst public meeting.

    These drawings and images will generate additional ideas and discussion of alternatives for the project site. Now, the volunteer committee is asking the community to complete an online survey that identifies specific land use. The survey is available at www.5825Airline.com, and all residents are asked to provide input.

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  • ,,,

    Community asked to complete online survey on EKL site, land use designs

    North Baton Rouge elected officials other community leaders and more than 100 stakeholders gathered at the S. E. Mackey Center to discuss their ideas and preferences of the former Earl K. Long Medical Center site at 5825 Airline Highway.
    The public input received during the March meeting served as a critical first step in understanding the community’s vision. Landscape architect Diane Jones Allen, D. Eng., of DesignJones, LLC , presented two LSU student designs completed over the summer which included the ideas and wishes expressed during the fi rst public meeting.
    These drawings and images will generate additional ideas and discussion of alternatives for the project site. Now, the volunteer committee is asking the community to complete an online survey to determine specific ways to use the vacant property. The survey is available at www.5825Airline.com, and all residents are asked to provide input.

    Read more »
  • ,

    Black Lives Matter Summit scheduled for Aug. 22

    The Baton Rouge Delta Alumnae Chapter, Planned Parenthood, and the Southern University Law Center will host a Black Lives Matter summit, Saturday, Aug. 22, at 8am at the Southern University Law Center’s AA Lenior Building.

    Organizers said the summit will address and discuss issues such as high incarceration rate, Black-on-Black crime, problematic relationships with law enforcement, disparity in educational opportunities for poverty-stricken areas, funding restraints of Historically Black Colleges and the breakdown of nuclear family.

    The summit is free and open to the public and CLE credits will be offered to all attorneys.. A lite breakfast and lunch will be served. Registration at www.eventbrite.com is requested.

    “There is strength in numbers and we believe in order to make a true impact and address these issues that have plagued our community for years, we must make this a total community  effort to provide positive solutions for these concerns,” said Karmen R. Davis, Baton Rouge Delta Alumnae Chapter president.

    Panel discussions will cover family matters, the judicial system and Black America, community involvement, and education.

    Speakers include Juvenile Court Judge Pam Taylor Johnson; Tasha Clark Amar, executive director of East Baton Rouge Council on Aging; Lamont Cole, CEO of ColeGroup; Ron Gathe, assistant district attorney for the 19th Judicial District; Louisiana State Trooper James Jefferson; Jacqueline Mims,Ph.D., clinical director, Eclectic Cognitive Behavioral Center; Kim Hunter Reed,Ph.D., senior associate, HCM Strategists; Walter Tillman Jr., Ph.D., Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals; attorney Charles Toney; Family Court Chief Judge Lisa Woodruff White; and assistant Southern Universaity New Orleans professor Carey YazeedPh.D.

     

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  • ,,

    Ancona’s delivers quality meat, service for 57 years

    There is a banner hanging on the wall of Ancona’s Stop & Save Inc. that reads, “50th Anniversary Reunion and Block Party. Music by D. J. Sammy the Entertainer. Celebrating 50 years of service to the community. Same Location – 2nd Generation Owners”.

    The banner is dated 2008 and even today, the Italian, family-owned and operated business is celebrating its success.

    Herald as one of the best meat markets in the city, Ancona’s opened its doors in 1958.

    The corner store has been at 2705 North Street where the Ancona family–Roy Sr., Frank, Luke, and Johnny–has developed a successful food business by accommodating thousands of customers who pour into the store monthly for staple groceries, meats, and hot lunches.

    The Italian descendents were raised on 29th Street and Easy Street in Easy Town and embedded with a very rich culture and legacy. The family siblings–a total of 11–played sports on the sole gravel road: North Street where the business now stands. The store grew under the vision of Roy Ancona Sr and is now under the management of the Ancona children, Mark and Roy Jr.

    FAMILY HISTORY
    Frank Ancona attended Louisiana State University majoring in chemical engineering and worked at Exxon for several years and as a math instructor at the St.Paul Adult Learning Cente.

    Roy Ancona Jr. attended Southeastern University and has owned the store since 1996. He started working in the store at the age of six years old bagging in the meat market and has been involved in the family store since that time. Roy Jr. said he is very proud of the family achievements and takes great pride in being one of the business managers.

    Mark Ancona was a part of the Submarine Corps Group and lived in Hawaii for many years. While in the military service, “many recognized and identified the Ancona name as relationship and being located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana,” Mark said. In 1966, he bagged groceries and worked with his father and was paid fifty cents an hour. He attended St. Thomas Moore, Catholic High School, and Broadmoor High School. He was employed with Louis Mechanical Plumbing, Lanehart Paint Company, and stated a lawn company before joining the military.

    In 1995, Robbie Ancona provided support to Mark and Roy to buid the business before relocating to Lexington, Kentucky.

    Another legacy of the family is also Vince Ancona, oldest brother who owned and operated a grocery store in the Baton Rouge Community during the time of World War II.

    ANCONA’S OFFERING
    Ancona’s community store includes groceries, hot deli, a meat market, breakfast and lunch plates, ,oney orders, and check cashing services. It is an establishment that welcomes the Baton Rouge community residents and other outline areas. The doors are opened and it is in an excellent location. Major businesses including Benny’s Cafe, Cafe Express, and the Match Box, continuously purchase meat specials from Ancona’s.
    “Business is good,” the owners said,  “Thanks the Baton Rouge Community for continued support and efforts in allowing the doors to stay open and for many others to follow.”

    By Mada McDonald
    Community Reporter

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  • ,

    Barrow announces candidacy for Senate seat

    After serving the constituents of House District 29 for three consecutive terms, State Representative Regina Ashford Barrow will officially announce her intention to run for the Louisiana Senate District 15 seat on tomorrow, Tuesday, August 4, at her campaign headquarters, 3558 Monterrey Drive, in Baton Rouge.

    For the next several months, Barrow said she plans to travel throughout District 15 and expand her campaign as she reaches out across the district to “share her platform with citizens searching for effective, result driven and inspirational servant leadership for Louisiana Senate District 15 in Baton Rouge.”

    She said the ability to successfully lead others and influence change is the most important components to effective leadership.

    Since 2005, she has represented District 29, serving on the Ways and Means Committee; Health and Welfare Committee; Municipal, Parochial, Cultural Affairs Committee; and the Joint Capital Outlay Committee. She is the Immediate Past Chairwoman of the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus.

    She serves as the state director for Women in Government, Women in Legislature Lobby, and the National Black Caucus of State Legislators.

    Barrow is the wife of 31 years to James Barrow, Sr. and together they have two adult children: Shanrika Barrow-Fobb and James Barrow, Jr.

    @jozefsyndicate

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  • ,

    Brookstown residents invited to play in the street Aug. 1

    Broadway street in North Baton Rouge will be blocked off Saturday, Aug. 1, 10am – 2pm for neighborhood residents to come out and play as part of a new program hosted by Pennington Biomedical Center and ExxonMobil.

    Here’s how it works: neighborhoods come together to close off a street or a section of a street on a regular basis to allow children to get outside and play in spaces where they may not normally be able to play, said Pennington officials.

    This program affords children and families in a local neighborhood increased space to play outside and engage in physical activity.

    Caught You Playing web

    “That’s why researchers at Pennington Biomedical Research Center are working to re-imagine the neighborhood street as a playground of sorts to benefit area children and increase their options for physical activity.”

    Pennington Biomedical’s Dr. Stephanie Broyles and Dr. Robert L. Newton Jr. study community health and helped bring the Play Streets concept to Baton Rouge. “Efforts like this one are really critical in ensuring the health of our city’s children, considering that one in two of Louisiana’s children is currently overweight or obese,” said Dr. Broyles.

    “Playing outside is a fantastic opportunity to get away from the television, phones and other screens that can consume our time. Play Streets incorporates physical activity into life so that children are having fun while they exercise,” added Dr. Newton.

    Modeled after successful programs in cities such as New York and Chicago, Pennington Biomedical is leading the local effort in partnership with the ExxonMobil Foundation and the BREC Foundation. Enthusiastic support from area leaders such as Baton Rouge District 5 City Council Member Ronnie Edwards also helps to make these events possible.

    “Coming together with other impactful community partners and neighbors to bring this innovative program to North Baton Rouge is just one example of how collectively we can make a difference. Our neighbors have embraced the Play Streets model, and ExxonMobil is glad to sponsor this pilot program, which we hope will find great success,” said Stephanie Cargile, spokesperson for ExxonMobil.

    PlayStreets_HalfPage

    “The opportunity to study new ways to encourage individuals to become more active is a way to create change in this segment of the quality of life in our community. The BREC Foundation, through its “Charting A New Course” campaign, is happy to support this initiative,” said BREC executive director Carl Stages.

    “The pilot program event in Brookstown is collaborative and it has been designed by their community members to fit their unique needs and resources,” Broyles said. “Programs like this have the potential to transform communities into healthier places for children to grow up, which is what Play Streets is all about.”

    (Photos provided by Pennington Biomedical Center)

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  • ,,,,

    Family walks and 3,100 petition for justice

    Friends and Family of Lamar Johnson holds “Walk for Justice” in Downtown Baton Rouge

    On Monday, July 6, the family and friends of Lamar Alexander Johnson, led a peaceful protest in downtown Baton Rouge in response to the controversy surrounding Johnson’s death while in police custody.

    The 27-year-old’s death has sparked controversy about the series of events that led to his passing while being held at the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison.

    Friends and Family of Lamar Johnson to “Walk for Justice” in Downtown Baton Rouge. (From Facebook page)[/caption]While the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office has claimed Johnson hung himself from his isolated jail cell, Johnson’s family and friends have insisted that this could not have been the case, especially considering Johnson believed he was being held for minor offense.

    IMG_2404Johnson, a father of three who was engaged to be married, was arrested on May 26 after an officer pulled him over for a window tint violation. According to the family, Johnson admitted to the officer that he had an outstanding 2011 warrant for what he believed, at the time, was a failure to appear for a traffic violation. On May 30, when the family tried to inquire about Johnson’s status, they were informed he was in the hospital, after prison officials said they discovered him hanging from his bed sheet in his cell. Johnson’s family said Lamar had no history of mental illness or depression.

    “Throughout the process, I stayed in touch with my son,” said Linda Johnson Franks, Lamar Johnson’s mother. “He kept assuring me that this was small potatoes and he’d either serve a few days or figure out how to pay whatever fines might be levied. This wouldn’t make sense in any situation, but especially if you knew Lamar. No way.”

    Johnson passed away on Sunday, June 10 from a total brain injury due to lack of oxygen.

    Friends and Family of Lamar Johnson to “Walk for Justice” in Downtown Baton Rouge. (From Facebook page)

    Friends and Family of Lamar Johnson to “Walk for Justice” in Downtown Baton Rouge. (From Facebook page)

    While the EBRSO said it conducted an internal review of the incident that confirmed their original story, the family has called for EBR city-parish officials to sanction an “uninterested, third-party investigation” into the series of events that led to Johnson’s injury. An online, Change.org petition started late last week calling for the same had 3,078 signatures at the time of this story.

    “We’re not making any accusations, we just want answers,” said Karl Franks, Lamar’s father. “And to get them, the investigated shouldn’t be conducting the investigation. That’s just common sense.”

    ONLINE: Change.org
    TWITTER: #JusticeforLamar
    FACEBOOK:https://www.facebook.com/pages/Justice-for-Lamar-Johnson/1116391165045014?fref=ts

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  • ,,

    SUBR set to win four HBCU Digest Awards

    Southern University is a finalist in four categories in the 2015 HBCU Digest national awards competition.

    SU’s College of Nursing and Allied Health is a finalist in the Best Nursing School category and the Human Jukebox Marching Band is among the top Marching Bands.

    Southern scored in the Top Alumnus category with National Alumni Federation President Preston Castille. The SU Alumni Federation also finished among the top National Alumni Association of the Year Category.

    The winners will be announced and receive their awards at a ceremony July 10 at Hampton University in Virginia. The ceremony is part of the HBCU National Media Summit being held at Hampton from July 9-11.

    According to HBCU Digest, finalists are annually selected based on the impact of nominees’ achievement on institutional development, and for media coverage earned for the institution by way of the nominee.

    The Marching Band category includes: Southern, Alabama State University Mighty Marching Hornets, Florida A&M University Marching 100 and Albany State University Marching Rams Show Band.

    Schools in Best Nursing School category, include: Southern, Prairie View A&M University and Tougaloo College.

    The Alumnus of the Year category, includes: Castille; Adriel Hilton of Morehouse, FAMU, and Morgan State University; Michael Jones, of Dillard University; and John Thompson, FAMU.

    The National Alumni Association category includes: Southern, FAMU, South Carolina State University, Tuskegee University, Xavier University of Louisiana and Clafin University.

    Winners are selected by an academy of former HBCU Awards winners, former and current HBCU presidents, alumni, faculty, students and journalists covering HBCU issues for local or national outlets.

    Created in 2011 by HBCU Digest Founding Editor Jarrett L. Carter Sr., the HBCU Awards is the first national awards event to recognize the influence and impact of HBCUs on American culture.

    The SU Alumni Federation previously won the HBCU Digest’s inaugural National Alumni Association of the Year award in 2012.

    @jozefsyndicate

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  • ,,

    Message to the Community from BREC Superintendent Carolyn McKnight

    I cannot in good conscience justify spending scarce taxpayer resources for a swimming pool that only five people walked to and used on a daily basis. I am writing to set the record straight about the imminent removal of the Gus Young swimming pool.

    BREC’s 2004 Imagine Your Parks plan evaluated the entire park system and the BREC Commission approved a separate aquatics plan which recommended modernizing some pools and creating an aquatic system that offered more options in strategic locations, including learn to swim pools, splash pads and centrally located Liberty Lagoon Water Park. The plan, prepared by a national aquatic firm familiar with best practices, also included partnering with other agencies to enable us to use resources more efficiently.

    The closing of pools at Baringer, Webb, Jefferson Highway and Gus Young Neighborhood Parks and the renovation of pools at Howell, City-Brooks and Anna T. Jordan Community Parks are part of that plan. The plan recommended having aquatic features only in community parks which serve a much larger population than neighborhood parks like Gus Young. In 2012, BREC was forced to close the 50-year old pool because it did not meet safety and health requirements and could not be repaired.

    BREC places a high priority on teaching children to swim and continues to expand its partnership with the YMCA. Together we offer swimming lessons at BREC and YMCA pools and have created a free water safety program taught to students and parents during the school year. We are proud to say that in addition to teaching more than 475 kids to swim last year hundreds more have signed up for swimming lessons again this summer.

    BREC transports hundreds of children from our summer camps to our pools and to Liberty Lagoon on a daily basis. Outside camps also use those locations. Using cost savings from the closure of neighborhood pools, and working with the YMCA, we created a “Splash Pass” which offers children the ability to swim at YMCA pools at BREC prices during our public swim times. Liberty Lagoon, in its fifth season, continues to thrive, frequently reaching maximum attendance levels and serving people throughout the parish.

    More than that, BREC places a high priority on serving youth and teens across the parish in order to offer healthy, safe, structured activity and protect them from exposure to violence or juvenile delinquency. Here is a snapshot of programs currently offered:

    • BREC on the Geaux serves 35 locations with 29 in the inner city area servicing approximately 8,000 youth and teens since January.
    • BREC offers 61 Recreation classes and programs for youth in the inner city areas and 28 programs for teens.
    • BREC offers 41 summer camps with 17 in the inner city area. 2015 summer camp enrollment has increased by nearly 1,400 children for recreation camps alone.
    • BREC hosted 16 Community Events in the inner city area since January servicing approximately 4,675 people.
    • BREC’s sports leagues such as baseball, football and basketball have served approximately 10,497 youth and teens since January.
    • BREC’s Outdoor Adventure serves 236 youth and teens with programs.
    • BREC’s Golf Department offered 72 programs targeted to youth and teens through the First Tee and other programs.
    • BREC Belfair Teen Center has served approximately 75 teens through a job training program.

    Later this summer, BREC will present several options to replace the 50-year old pool at Gus Young at a public meeting. Community leaders have asked us to consider building a splash pad which would require a significant amount of private funding and Commission approval since it is counter to our Aquatics plan. BREC simply cannot afford to build splash pads or pools in neighborhood parks. If a sufficient amount of private funding is not located, we have ideas on how to enhance this active park and the many events held there now.

    BREC remains committed to serving the entire parish while making the best use possible of limited taxpayer dollars that fund more than 180 parks. We also remain committed to partnering with the YMCA and schools to teach children to swim, offer quality recreation programs for youth and teens during after school and out of school breaks and creating a healthier and safer community.

    Carolyn McKnight
    BREC Superintendent
    cmcknight@brec.org

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  • ,,

    1,500 petition to keep Gus Young pool

    Plans are underway to permanently close the community pool at the BREC Gus Young Avenue Park in East Baton Rouge on August 1. Public opposition is increasing, but is it enough to convince the BREC board or  superintendent Carol McKnight  to reconsider closure and re-allocate $400,000  from BREC’s $69 million annual budget to preserve the historic pool and clubhouse?

    Community leaders and residents said they want a pool and are not interested in other option–not even a splashpad that would require $500,000 in donations. Longtime activist Elwin “Bobby” Burns said he has collected more than 1,500 signatures petitioning to restore and open the pool. He will submit the petition to the Mayor’s office and Metro Councilmembers. Burns is concerned that the children have swimming opportunities within walking distance of their homes. “BREC has four dog parks!” Burns wrote in an email to The Drum asking if funds that were once identified for Gus Young park renovations had been transferred to fund the parish’s new dog parks.

    The pool was closed three summers ago for repairs about the same time the Liberty Water Park was built in Independence Park. When the pool was closed the 39 kids who signed up for swimming lessons were referred to other pools which were 2 miles away. Then, the cost of swimming in the Gus Young pool was $1.25 per person. The cost of Liberty Waterpark was $8 for people shorter than 4 feet and $10 for taller people. Today, the Gus Young residents have are given the option to learn to swim at the nearby A.C Lewis YMCA pool on South Foster Drive, which is located about 2 miles away. BREC said 103 people have signed up for the swimming lessons.

    Residents also have the option of swimming at BREC’s Howell Community Park Pool on Winnborne Ave., which is also 2 miles away, or at BREC’s Anna T. Jordan pool which is located farther in North Baton Rouge.

    For many Gus Young residents, this is not a viable option said Metro Councilwoman C. Denise Marcelle who represents the area. According to the Rev. Richard Andrus, pastor of St. Paul Apostle Catholic Church on Gus Young, his congregation overwhelmingly supports keeping the pool instead of permanently closing it or replacing it with a splashpad. He will join Marcelle in meeting with BREC leaders.

    Read more »
  • ,

    Juneteenth event, book uncover history of Scotlandville

    Local authors join forces with citizens to create tribute to small town’s history, June 19.

    Telling a story in pictures is Images of America: Scotlandville, the newest addition to Arcadia Publishing’s popular Images of America series. The book by local authors Rachel L. Emanuel, Ruby Jean Simms, and Charles Vincent released the book June 1, 2015. The book contains wonderful vintage images capturing this African American community’s history.

    A rural village that was once the entry point for the slave trade and home to a cotton plantation, Scotlandville became the largest Black town in Louisiana.

    Located in the northern part of East Baton Rouge Parish, Scotlandville’s history is intricately tied to Southern University and A&M College System, the naton’s only historically Black university system

    image

    . Southern University relocated from New Orleans to the bluff of the Mississippi River on the western edge of Scotlandville in 1914.

    The story of the university and town is a tale of triumph and struggle in the midst of racism, inequality, and oppression. Presented through the theme of firsts in businesses, churches, schools, residential developments, environmental issues, politics, social organizations, and community service, Images of America: Scotlandville focuses on the people who shaped the community economically, politically, socially, and culturally.

    Using photographs from institutional and personal collections, Emanuel, Simms, and Vincent describe the origins, development, and heyday of the vibrant neighborhoods of Scotlandville before the community’s incorporation into Baton Rouge.

    Emanuel is the director of communications and development support for the Southern University Law Center; Simms and Vincent are both professors of history at Southern University.

    EVENT INFO:
    Juneteenth Celebration Book Launch
    Friday, June 19,  4-5:30 p.m
    Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church Family Life Center
    6700 Scenic Hwy
    Baton Rouge, LA

    Available at area bookstores, independent retailers, and online retailers.
     

    @jozefsyndicate

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  • ,,

    Conference to focus on advancing leadership in economic development

    The Southern University College of Business is hosting its Second Annual Advancing Leadership in Economic Development conference on June 11 -13 at the Southern University College of Business’ T.T. Allain Hall.

    The two-day conference will feature local and nationally recognized business leaders who will share effective leadership strategies and successful economic development programs.

    Featured speakers include: James Joseph, former ambassador to South Africa and former public policy professor at Duke University;  Richard McCline, Ph.D., with the Fanning Institute for Leadership Development at the University of Georgia; and Will Campbell with Capital One.

    Topics include regional economic growth and development opportunities, revitalizing rural and inner-city neighborhoods, leadership models that get results,  and the role of political leaders in economic development.
    It is targeted to small business owners, community development professionals, nonprofit organizations, city and state leaders, and anyone else who is interested in learning more about leadership and business opportunities in our area.

    “This conference encourages attendees to play a greater role in growing their businesses and organizations and to take advantage of the many economic opportunities available in our city and state,” said Donald Andrew, Ph.D., dean of the College of Business and coordinator of the conference. ‘It also gives attendees the tools they need to succeed and it’s a great networking opportunity.”

    Registration is $50.  For more information on speakers and to register, go to subruniversitycenter.org or call (225) 771-5640 or (225) 771- 6248.

     

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  • ,

    Black Journalists honoring four journalism pioneers, April 23

    The Baton Rouge Area Association of Black Journalists (BRAABJ) will honor four pioneering journalists at its third annual Scholarship Luncheon on April 23.

    The former journalists are John Williams, the first Black photographer at The Advocate (posthumously); Jean West, former WAFB Channel 9 anchor and the first Black anchor in Baton Rouge;  Ivory Payne, publisher of The Weekly Press newspaper which has served the African American community in North Baton Rouge for more than 40 years,  and Genevieve Stewart, former host of “Question of the Day” on KQXL-FM.

    “This is our way of saying thank you to those who paved the way for other Black journalists in our area to pursue a career in the media,” says BRAABJ President Michelle McCalope. “We realize that without them there would be no us.”

    The luncheon will be held at 11:30 a.m. at Boudreaux’s , 2647 Government Street in Baton Rouge. Tickets are $25 and sponsorships are also available. You can purchase tickets online at brareabj.org.

    Proceeds from the event will provide scholarships to Southern and LSU journalism students. Since 2012, the luncheon has raised nearly $30,000 and provided scholarships to six students.

    Last year, the organization sponsored three students at the National Association of Black Journalists Convention in Boston.

    For tickets or more information, call (225) 678-1472 or (225) 229-1906.  Visit BRAABJwebsite at brareabj.org.  The association is a non-profit organization made up of local media professionals. Our goal is to highlight and support journalists of color and give back through mentoring and scholarships. It is an affiliate of the National Association of Black Journalists.

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  • ,,

    Sen. Broome to hold three district meetings

    State Senator Sharon Weston Broome will hold a series of community meetings in the Senate District 15 area prior to the 2015 Regular Legislative Session. Senator Broome will highlight legislative issues and her priorities for the upcoming session.

    Broome urges citizens in the area to take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about important state issues.

    Save the date and join the conversation!

    Monday, March 23
    6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
    Baker Branch Library
    3501 Groom Road
    Baker, La 70714

    Monday, April 6
    6:00 pm – 7:30 pm
    BREC Headquarters
    6201 Florida Boulevard
    Baton Rouge, La 70806

    Tuesday, April 7
    6:00 pm – 7:30 pm
    Zachary Branch Library
    1900 Church Street
    Zachary, La 70791

    The session will convene at noon on Monday, April 13.

    For more information, contact
    lasen15@legis.la.gov or (225) 359-9352

    Read more »
  • ,

    March 12th meeting to discuss potential uses for EKL site

    PUBLIC PARTICIPATION  NEEDED

    East Baton Rouge parish residents, business owners, and other interested stakeholders are invited to a public charrette, Thursday, March 12, to help establish a framework and share ideas to develop the former Earl K Long Hospital site on Airline Highway in Baton Rouge.

    The charrette is a hands-on planning session and design exercise where community members, designers, business and property owners and other stakeholders collaborate on a vision for development uses of the former hospital site, which will be demolished during late 2015. The charrette will begin at 6pm, Thursday, March 12, at the S.E. Mackey Community Center, 6543 Ford Street.

    The charrette will include various breakout sessions. Some of those breakout sessions will focus on economic development efforts while others will be geared toward discussing the needs of children and families.

    Local project management firm Franklin Associates will facilitate the charrette. Diane Jones Allen, D. Eng., ASLA, DesignJones LLC; Jason Lockhart, Sinektiks, LLC; and Sit Wong, Domain Design, will join Franklin Associates. Representatives from Southern University College of Business, including dean Donald Andrews, and the East Baton Rouge City-Parish Planning and Commission Office will also be contributing to the discussion.

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

    Sharon Weston-Broome State Senator, District 15.

    The charette is hosted by District 15 State Senator Sharon Weston Broome, District 29 State Representative Regina Ashford Barrow, District 5 Councilwoman Ronnie Edwards and other community leaders.

    For more information, visit www.5825airline.org 

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  • ,

    Youth invited to The Kickback roundtable, Feb. 21

    Our Schools…Our Excellence will host a youth-led round table, The Kickback, Saturday, Feb. 21, at Star Hill Church, 1400 North Foster Drive, starting at noon.

    Organizers said the dialogue will be led by students, with minimal adult interaction. This gives middle and high school students in North Baton Rouge an opportunity to share, discuss and thoroughly understand their educational experience.

    Two students from each North Baton Rouge School have been asked to attend and participate in the discussion in order to have a better understanding the major problems plaguing the schools. “The children should not be penalized by receiving poor education because of lack of structure within our communities. We are all directly responsible for the success or failure of our children,” said Kali Johnson, lead consultant with Our Schools.Our Excellence.

    “The days of placing the blame on the school, teacher, student or parent are over. The concern now, is what strategies and tactics can we create together to see our goals come to fruition. One goal in particular is to increase student participation in the improvement and success of their education through the organization’s Youth Involvement cluster.” Johnson said the organization is committed to facilitating change within the North Baton Rouge School System.

    Read more »
  • ,

    Energy Assistance Funds Available for Low-Income EBR Residents

    Applications to be accepted starting Monday, Feb. 2

    East Baton Rouge’s Office of Social Services has funds available to assist qualifying low-income households with their energy bills through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

    To qualify for assistance through the program, a household’s total monthly income cannot exceed the limits in the table below. Qualifying households cannot have received a previous benefit within the past six months.

    Household Size                       Maximum Income
    Per household                            per month
    1                                                       $1,807
    2                                                       $2,363
    3                                                       $2,920
    4                                                       $3,476
    5                                                       $4,032
    6                                                      $4,588
    7                                                      $4,692
    8                                                      $4,796
    9                                                      $4,901
    10                                                    $5,005
    11                                                     $5,109
    12                                                    $5,214
    13                                                    $5,318
    14                                                    $5,422
    15                                                    $5,526

    All applications will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis according to the program’s waiting list. To get on the waiting list, please call the nearest Office of Social Services location (see table of zip codes below) on Fridays, 8am – noon. Applications will then be taken by appointment only, beginning Monday, Feb. 2nd.

    Applicants must provide, at a minimum, the following documentation at the time the application is taken:
    (1) Copies of each household member’s social security card
    (2) Proof of income of all household members age 18 or older
    (3) A copy of an energy bill (must be within the last 6 months)
    (4) A photo I.D. of the applicant
    (5) At least one other document that was mailed to the applicant at the service address indicated on the energy bill.

    If additional documentation is required, the applicant will be notified at the time of application. Households reporting zero income will also be required to provide additional documentation. All information provided with the application will be subject to verification. Intentional misrepresentation of information may result in criminal prosecution of the applicant and anyone assisting in the misrepresentation.

    Income eligible applicants who have received a Disconnect Notice and who have not received assistance for a Disconnect Notice in the prior 12 months may also apply.

    LIHEAP Application Sites

    • Central Office, 4523 Plank Road, Baton Rouge, LA 70805 358-4561 70805
    • Chaneyville Community Center, 13211 Jackson Road, Zachary, LA 70791 658-9790
    • Charles R. Kelly Community Center (Delmont Service Center, 3535 Riley Street, Baton Rouge, LA 70805 357-5013
    • Dr. Leo S. Butler Community Center, 950 East Washington St., Baton Rouge, LA 70802 389-4814
    • Dr. Martin L. King Community Center, 4000 Gus Young Ave., Baton Rouge, LA 70802 389-7679
    • Jewel J. Newman Community Center (North Baton Rouge Community Center), 2013 Central Road, Baton Rouge, LA 70807 778-1007
    • Rural Program, 5736 Rollins Road, Baton Rouge, LA 70791 658-7494 70791
    Read more »
  • Capitol City Golf Association celebrates 49 years

    Before Tiger Woods swung his first golf club, the Capitol City Golf Association had been recruiting Black golf enthusiast for more than two decades.

    “There was time where blacks could work on any golf course, but were only welcomed to play at a few, especially in the south”, said Don Watson CCGA Tournament Coordinator. This year the Capitol City Golf Association celebrated its 49th anniversary.

    To commemorate almost half of century of promoting the golf among the community the CCGA hosted its annual golf tournament.

    Ronald Williams, Corey Grant, Al Ridley, Henry Pointer, Mophi Mmopi,Don Watson, CCGA Tournament Committee chair Huston Williams, CCGA president Sidney Brown III, Mark Young, and CCGA treasurer Paul Levy

    During Father’s day weekend golfers representing Southern Association of Amateur Golfers registered golf clubs from Louisiana, and throughout the southern region of country, united at the Coppermill Golf Club, in Zachary La., for two days of competition.

    “Our mission is to promote the sport of golf and share the benefits that can be gained from taking up the sport at an early age” said Sid- ney Brown III CCGA President

    swing

    Tyler Armstrong takes a swing as part of the Frist Tee Program.

    In order build on the legacy set by the CCGA ,and engage youth golf enthusiast, the organization partnered for the first time with the Baton Rouge chapter of the First Tee program.

    “Golf is a sport that doesn’t discriminate, you don’t have be to certain height or have certain build, and almost anyone can play,” Watson said, “All you need is a desire to learn the game.”

    The First Tee is a national program that introduces the game of golf to young people and uses it to teach character education and life skills that help young people pre- pare for success in high school, college and beyond.

    Brown said this year the organization would work with First Tee to provide mentors, coaches, and scholarships for the program.This year’s the competition saw the greatest variety in age among participants, with youngest being 13 and the oldest 72 years old.

    According to a study by Harvard Medical School senior citizens who play golf regularly are likely to benefit from a stronger heart and sharper memory.

    To celebrate the vast variety of age groups and states represented by the more than 80 SAAG members who participated, and its 49- year history, the CCGA hosted a banquet.

    “Our organization has grown from the support our chapter members and other organizations, the annual banquet is our way of thanking those who supported promoting unity off the golf course,” said Huston Williams

    The CCGA was organized in 1961 to provide amateur golfers with opportunities to develop their individual skills and encourage others in the community to participate in the game.

    The CCGA is the Baton Rouge Chapter of the Southern Association of Amateur Golfers. The SAAG is to a regional organization of 18 golf clubs spanning throughout the southern region of the United States.

    Cameron James

    City News Manager

    Read more »
  • LA Democrats revel in past, plan for future

     

    EBR Parish Democratic Executive Committee hosts Banquet

    BATON ROUGE-A desire for change, growth and honor brought Democrats from all over Louisiana to East Baton Rouge Parish to celebrate the party’s history and make plans for the future.

    The event, “Remembering Our Roots: Every Man a King”, the first of what will be an annual banquet for the group, was held May 31 at the MJ Womack Center in Baton Rouge. It honored three EBR Democrats for their service to the party.

    “If we don’t remember the past we will not understand much of the present and have no conception of the future,” said former Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards who served as the keynote speaker. “The past is important because we build on it to make things better.”

    L to r:Ben Jeffers, Dawn P Collins, Represenative Patricia Haynes-Smith, Louis Reine

    State Rep. Patricia Haynes-Smith was given the J.K. Haynes Sr. Award of Advocacy in Action; Louis Reine, president of American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations Louisiana was given the Victor Bussie Award of Excellence and the Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Ben Jeffers.

    “Receiving an honor from the party that I have worked hard for is a humbling and gratifying experience,” said Jeffers, who was honored for being the first Black person to serve as the Chairman of the Louisiana Democratic Party.

    Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell and John Bel Edwards discussed some of the issues the state is facing.

    “We have a charity hospital system in this state that has been in place since the 1700s, it has survived the civil war, the world wars, hurricanes, but it could not survive Bobby Jindal and the Republican majority,” Edwards said.

    Campbell pointed to some of the issues facing Louisiana, such as budget cuts and coastal erosion.

    “The state constitution says only domestic oil can be taxed,” Campbell said. “Since 1922 we refine 95% foreign oil in the state of Louisiana and only refine 5% Louisiana oil, but we only tax the oil refined in the state.

    Campbell continued that Louisiana’s biggest problem is coastal erosion and that every hour – land equal to the size of one football field – is being washed away from the state’s coast.

    Along with discussing issues facing the state, speakers highlighted the unity within the party.

    State representative Edward “Ted” James said that the beauty of the Democratic Party is that it is made up of a variety of ages, socio-economic backgrounds and races with similar ideas.

    “We will not be successful if we don’t give our resources, change will not happen if we continue to let this state be red,” James said. “If you can’t afford to write a thousand dollar check, you can give your time and call a thousand people, if you can’t call a thousand people you can knock on a thousand doors, we have to come together.”

    Representative Edward "Ted" James and Volunteer Maria Harmon

    Representative Edward “Ted” James and Volunteer Maria Harmon

    James said that the melting pot of citizens who come together with ideas and work hard to put them into action to create a better Louisiana is the party’s greatest asset.

    Maria Harmon, a volunteer for the East Baton Rouge Democratic Party, is one of those helping the party attain the assets James referenced.

    “Since I graduated this summer with my Masters I have been looking for a job,” Harmon said. “The hard work the Party has been doing inspired me to work voluntarily [with them] as I search”

    Harmon said as volunteer she learned no matter who a person is or where they come from. everyone is affected by the decisions made by elected officials.

    “There are so many issues affecting young people right now, such as budget cuts to higher education, health care, pay day lending and equal pay for women – all of these things affect us as young people,” she said. “A lot of younger people today are more progressive, more liberal and we need to have our voices heard.”

    Former governor Edwards is one of the pioneers for diversity among politics in Louisiana. During his time as governor, he appointed more Blacks and women to high positions in his administration than his predecessors anywhere in the nation.

    Edwards reflected on the first time he took the step to create racial equality by appointing the state’s first Black post master Huey Fontenot. He said its something he still considers one of his proudest moments.

    Councilwoman C.Denise Marcel

    Even though Edwards held acclaim for such doings, he is now more widely known for being convicted of 17 counts of racketeering, extortion, money laundering, mail fraud and wire fraud in 2001. He was sentenced to 10 years and was released in 2011.

    “At night I would reflect on how people supported me and how we worked together to better this state, how we were the voice for people who couldn’t speak,” Edwards said. “I’d sit and wonder what it would be like when I got out.  The last conscious thought I’d have would be for the people of Louisiana. All those concerns were washed away when I got out and realized you had not forgotten me.”

    Earlier this year Edwards announced he would run for the vacant seat on Louisiana’s 6th Congressional District.

    The Democratic Executive Committee had only six weeks to prepare for the event, making it clear that the banquet’s theme, inspired by Huey P. Long, still resonates with people in the capitol city and beyond.

    By Cameron James

    Read more »
  • Erotic author, Zane, talks entrepreneurship

    INSTEAD OF TELLING EROTIC tales Author Zane discussed how to become a successful entrepreneur at Southern University, April 1.

    “To me the erotic ele- ments of my books are re- ally minor compared to the underlying issues I’m try- ing to deal with in the book, I do think everything is an element in life and sexual- ity is part of it,” Zane said.

    She said that her much deeper purpose to help peo- ple navigate through toxic relationships, because no matter what their goals are the relationships they have will affect them.

    The author of more than 30 romance novels shared with fans some how she was able to transform herself from woman who wrote just to pass the time into a New York Times best seller.

    To be successful some- one must be focused, compassionate, and passionate, she said.

    “The way you can tell someone is really passionate about what they are doing is because it never looks like they are work- ing,” she said.

    Zane has executive produced and written the scripts for the movies to her books, but her passion is what get keeps her going. In history, some of the most successful people “failed” before they found their success.

    “It shouldn’t be about failing or succeeding, you shouldn’t be afraid to do either one and you can’t spend time worrying about either,” she said.

    The author said she no- ticed that most successful people have what she refers to as “I.E.” personality.

    “These people are in- ternally motivated, but ex- ternally focused. They see world as a big picture and bigger than themselves,” she said.

    One of the biggest reason people don’t achieve their goals is because they spend too much time worried about other people. Zane said she believes that judging other people is based on our own insecurities and that it is the only reason for someone to ex- cited or happy when some- one is seemingly failing at something.

    “If you’re compassionate and care about what happens to other people and care about leaving the world a better place than how you found it. It will al- ways be a constant motivation bigger than anything else,” she said.

    Read more »
  • CATS to Make passenger friendly changes

    LAST YEAR THE CAPITAL AREA Transit System (CATS) serviced nearly 2.5 million people in the Greater Baton Rouge area.  During  2014 the transportation agency said they are working to provide and have already made some of the following changes:

    Added three new mechanics in the maintenance workforce to ensure all vehicles in top condition.

    • Launch an app called RouteMatch that will provide customers with voice announcements and automatic updates on all routes and CATS fleet in April.
    • Replace 12 existing buses.
    • Purchase ten eight-passenger; two- wheelchair vans to support its Para transit business.
    • Work with LSU, Cortana Mall and Mall of Louisiana to develop transfer location plans.
    • Hire an additional 31 employees by the end of February.

     

    Read more »
  • ExxonMobil to pay $2 million

    ExxonMobil Ordered to must pay $2.329 million in a settlement.

    ExxonMobil must pay $2.329 million in a settlement, announced by the state’s Dept. of Environ-mental Quality last August and finalized early this month, to address violations from 2008 into 2013 at its greater Baton Rouge facilities.

    The settlement was DEQ’s biggest with any company last year. But critics question whether the agreement was large enough or even appropriate. Exxon was cited with many infractions at its refinery and resinfinishing and chemical plants in East Baton Rouge Parish and its tank-farm facility in West Baton Rouge.

    Early this month, DEQ said the settlement was approved following a public review period late last year and was signed by state Attorney General Buddy Caldwell in December.In addition to paying a civil penalty of $300,000 to DEQ, Exxon under the agreement must spend no less than $1 million on Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures or SPCC projects at its Baton Rouge complex and will fund beneficial environmental projects or BEPs totaling $1.029 million.

    In terms of funding, the top four BEPs approved under the settlement are $400,000 for a Groundwater Reduction Project to trim the company’s groundwater usage; a $250,000 donation to DEQ to improve its Early Warning Organic Chemical Detection system; a $100,000 donation to the East Baton Rouge Mayor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness/ Local Emergency Planning Committee to implement the ExxonMobil North Baton Rouge Emergency Preparedness Initiative; and a $100,000 donation to Rebuilding Together Baton Rouge for weather proofing and air tightening of homes, especially those next to ExxonMobil facilities.

    In the settlement, Exxon also agreed to a $50,000 donation to the Baton Rouge Area Foundation for groundwater-conservation awareness in East Baton Rouge Parish; a $50,000 donation to DEQ to fund the agency’s Expanded Age Distribution and Vehicle Population Data Project on emissions in Louisiana; a $29,000 donation to the Louisiana Foundation for Excellence in Science, Technology and Education, or LaFESTE, for the Baton Rouge Clean Air Coalition; a $25,000 donation to Baton Rouge Green Association Inc.’s Neighbor Woods project near the refi nery; and $25,000 payment to install a meteorological station at the company’s Baton Rouge refinery complex.

    Read more »
  • Red Stick Ready.com available for severe weather updates

    In times of severe weather Mayor President  Melvin “Kip” Holden is encouraging  East Baton Rouge Parish citizens to visit Red Stick Ready for information on the effects it could have on the parish.

    Created by Mayor-President Melvin “Kip” Holden and the Mayor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency the website provides information on how to prepare for, respond to and recover from all emergency situations.

    The site presents parish-wide road conditions, crime reports, and disaster assistance information. Red Stick Ready’s Facebook page provides hourly updates.

    Baton Rouge is one of only two cities in Louisiana to be certified as a “Storm Ready Community” by the National Weather Service.

    Read more »
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