Longtime state Sen. Don Cravins expects to soon finalize a deal on a home in the heart of Opelousas and will begin his campaign to become mayor of the city by the fall. "I actually campaign every day," he says. "But I'll officially start then." Cravins supported current Opelousas Mayor Anna Simmons when she was elected in 2002 but now says he can do a better job than Simmons, who plans to run for re-election next year. Cravins says his key issue in the race will be rebuilding infrastructure, paving roads and giving the city a general cleanup. "There's a lot of little things that can be done almost immediately that won't take a whole lot of money that I think could make a tremendous impact psychologically," he says. He also wants to work toward revitalizing the downtown area, instituting a housing rehabilitation program and starting a business incubator similar to the Enterprise Center of Louisiana in Carencro. Cravins was first elected state senator in 1992, and term limits will force him out of his current office in 2008. City elections for Opelousas are scheduled for fall 2006, when both Simmons and embattled Police Chief Larry Caillier will be up for re-election. Caillier is facing charges of mishandling federal funds. Cravins says he doesn't anticipate Caillier's situation to spill over into the mayor's race. "I think most people are ready to be done with it one way or another." ' NS
RICHARD LEBOUEF'S COOKIN'
On April 23, Cajun musician and Kaplan native Richard LeBouef will begin airing an independently produced weekly cooking and musical television program called Richard LeBouef's Good Time Kitchen. The 30-minute program will air on Saturday mornings on KLFY TV10 and will feature LeBouef as the host as well as musical guests. LeBouef says he hopes to create a cooking show that not only features food, but also local music and the style of humor that made Justin Wilson a household name. ' RRF
RIDEAU TO PAY FOR HIS OWN TRIAL?
On Jan. 12, Wilbert Rideau was released after serving 44 years in the Louisiana State Penitentiary for the 1961 murder of Julia Ferguson ("Rideau's Release," Jan. 26). He was set free after a new trial and jury gave him a 21-year sentence for manslaughter, effectively releasing him for time already served. But the Lake Charles American Press reported last week that Rideau's legal woes aren't over. Judge David Ritchie ordered Rideau to pay $126,000 in court costs for his fourth trial for the crime. The judge stated that he expected Rideau to come into "an anticipated windfall of money" from a lucrative writing career. One of Rideau's defense attorneys, public defender Ron Ware, stated, "It's unprecedented for an indigent [defendant] who has served that much time to be ordered to pay court costs. The trial is over, the verdict is in, and it is time to let it go and move on." Rideau's attorneys have until April 15 to object to the order. ' RRF
SPARE SOME $20,000 IN CHANGE?
Two employees of the Lafayette Department of Traffic and Transportation, Rhagan Thomas and Rachel Wills, have been charged with felony theft for stealing at least $22,000 in coins from Lafayette parking meters. The two were believed to have taken the coins to a local coin-exchange machine where they converted their stolen coins into cash. The Advocate reported that the two employees were part of a larger investigation of at least seven people in consolidated government that had been investigated or arrested for theft and forgery. According to The Advocate, Chief Administrative Officer Dee Stanley stated: "We have a missing bulldozer, for crying out loud ' rolled off a job site two years ago. If any employee knows where our bulldozer is, we'd like to know." ' RRF
BREAUX'S KILLER CONVICTED
Wearing his signature red clogs, Houma resident Daniel Breaux was a fixture at Lafayette festivals and nightclubs for more than 20 years. Breaux danced regularly at Blue Moon Saloon and Festival International, and was a gentle and fun-loving spirit who rarely missed a BeauSoleil performance ("Red Clogs and Angel Wings," May 12). When Breaux was murdered in a botched robbery attempt by four teenagers last May 1 after attending the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, the Acadiana arts community went into mourning.
Last week, The Times-Picayune reported that a New Orleans jury convicted 15-year-old John Duncan of Breaux's murder. Since Duncan is a juvenile, he will be jailed in an adult prison until he is 31 years old. Sixteen-year-old Kevin Atkins testified against Duncan and received a five-year sentence for attempted armed robbery. Two more teenagers, Cedric Curtis and Jerone Walls, await trial on second-degree murder charges. ' SJ
GOODY'S MOVING IN
The family clothing store Goody's is gobbling up 28,000 square feet in the Ambassador Row shopping center across from the Mall of Acadiana. The remaining portion of the 52,000-square-foot spot, which housed Hobby Lobby before it relocated to the old Target store in the Acadiana Square shopping center, is not yet leased. "We're currently working a deal," says Debbie Thibodeaux, regional leasing director for Miami-based Equity One, which owns the center.
An extensive renovation to both the faÃ§ade and interior are under way, with Goody's planning a mid-May opening. The Knoxville, Tenn.-based store, founded and now run by the third generation of the Goodfriend family, offers clothing and accessories from brands like Hanes, Healthtex, Lee, Levis, Mudd, Reebok, Keds and Steve Madden.
Considered a moderately priced "junior department store," Goody's has more than 350 locations in 20 states. ' LT
BOULEVARD OPENS GRILLE
The onslaught of chain restaurants in Lafayette hasn't dampened the Cart family's entrepreneurial spirit. "We're a dying breed," says Lynda Cart, who last week launched Boulevard Grille in the Oil Center Gardens. Her husband, Bruce, and son Jeffrey are partners. Lynda is as upbeat as she was nine years ago, when this same trio opened Antoni's Italian CafÃ©, just a stone's throw from the new Tex-Mex concept.
This time, though, 28-year-old Jeffrey is in charge. "He has us for support," Lynda says. "That's the nice thing about having our businesses so close together."
In his first week, Jeffrey is seeing a lot of familiar faces from the successful Antoni's. "They've been coming in to check it out," he says. The grill also will cater to the downtown lunch crowd and hopes to garner significant business from medical professionals at nearby Lafayette General.
Interior designer Judy Leggett (Lynda's sister) has just moved to Lafayette from Dallas and created the restaurant interior's contemporary/cosmopolitan atmosphere, which incorporates Jeffrey's photography. Leggett also assisted on the Antoni's dÃ©cor.
Boulevard Grille, a combination of Tex-Mex and traditional American fare (meat for the half-pound burgers is ground fresh everyday), is open Monday through Saturday, for lunch only. The new restaurant has taken over the spot that most recently housed the Lebanese eatery Essie's. ' LT
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday, April 16, 2014:
Acadian rep notifies would-be supporters that an April 25 fundraiser for the embattled U.S. rep won’t go on as planned.
While it isn’t all too unusual for public bodies to have hired security present during meetings, the LPSB’s push to do so is arguably a response to the antics of one board member.
“I’m running. Why would I be raising all this money? Just to have to return it to people?”
With incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu watching from afar, and with a united Democratic Party in her corner, the fight to get the GOP officially behind Congressman Bill Cassidy is gaining just as much momentum as it is hushed controversy.
15th Judicial District Judge Durwood Conque has announced that he will not seek re-election after 27 years on the bench.
The controversial standardized tests are set to be used in third-grade through eighth-grade public school classrooms next year.
The Louisiana Senate has agreed to prohibit unmanned aircraft from flying over chemical plants, water treatment systems, telecommunications networks and other items considered "critical infrastructure" in Louisiana.
It didn’t take long for KATC TV 3 to jump all over the news of a dead body found in Girard Park, but in its rush to produce headlines, the local TV station got sloppy.
An unholy trinity of civil-society upheavalers whose first names are not Conner, Tanner or Logan are facing charges in Eunice.
Now that lawmakers have shot down efforts to cap annual interest rates for payday loans, supporters for stricter regulations of the storefront lenders are rallying behind another strategy.
The Appropriations Committee held public testimony day, letting people talk about what they like or don't like about Gov. Bobby Jindal's budget recommendations for the 2014-15 fiscal year that begins July 1.
Lafayette police are investigating the death of a 21-year-old woman whose body was found early Sunday in a drainage ditch in Girard Park.
Former Grant parish District Attorney Ed Tarpley says he's running for the U.S. House seat currently held by Republican Vance McAllister of Swartz.
Louisiana-Lafayette got strong starting pitching and timely hitting to hold off Arkansas-Little Rock 6-3 in Sun Belt Conference baseball in Lafayette, La.
Chris Williams knows how to pilfer from the public coffers, this time with a back-pay lawsuit filed three years ago against the Lafayette Housing Authority, which netted the former city-parish councilman a cool five figures.
McAllister's office vowed that he intended to stay in office — for now. As for questions about whether he would stand for re-election in November, those were dodged.
The Green Army's Lafayette brigade has announced it will pay a visit Friday morning to Sen. Page Cortez to urge him to vote against Sen. Robert Adley's SB 553, which the group is calling the "Big Oil Bailout Bill of 2014."
For the sixth consecutive year, Andy Nyman, LSU associate professor of wetland wildlife management, and his service-learning students plan to spend spring break differently from those students flooding the beaches of Florida.
When a BP oil well began gushing crude into the Gulf of Mexico four years ago, fisherman George Barisich used his boat to help clean up the millions of gallons that spewed in what would become the worst offshore spill in U.S. history.
The legislation — House Bill 503 by state Rep. Thomas Carmody, R-Shreveport — passed by an 8-5 vote and advances next to the full House.
The Republican Party of Louisiana has had enough with the philandering hypocrite Vance McAllister. David Vitter? Eh...
A top aide to a Louisiana congressman videotaped kissing a married woman who is not his wife was one of the few people with access to the leaked security footage that exposed the dalliance.
Louisiana would repeal an unconstitutional state law prohibiting intercourse between two people of the same sex, if lawmakers agree to a bill that narrowly received the backing of a House committee Wednesday.