AOC’s demise spelled doom for a community art project.
When the Acadiana Outreach Center collapsed in a heap of financial mismanagement last year and downsized its operations, it left behind a collection of historic buildings at the edge of downtown. But the center also left behind a tangible reminder of its restorative mission: colorful mosaic murals of glass, mirror and tile decorating walls of the main building, known as The Well, and an adjacent structure. The murals were a collaborative, community-art project erected in late 2005 by clients of AOC along with art education students and professors from UL’s Building Institute.
But in January of this year as its financial woes became insurmountable, AOC sold the downtown property to the Lafayette Public Trust Financing Authority, the state-sanctioned nonprofit created in 1979 and tasked with reversing urban decay, facilitating affordable housing and a host of other interests. By spring the group, under the direction of the Louisiana Office of Historic Preservation, began renovating the buildings in an effort to restore them to their early 20th-century character.
The colorful murals were unceremoniously scraped away.
“No one involved with AOC or the campus contacted me at all after the sale about anything, and they left quite a bit of materials and stuff there,” says LPTFA Chairman John Arceneaux. “And after attempts to have AOC finalize everything and remove anything they wanted including their signage, we went ahead and started hauling away approximately five or six dumpsters of stuff left in the warehouses...”
One of the warehouses is already on its way to becoming artists lofts, and Arceneaux says the former Well building will likely become LPTFA’s new administrative office. (The group currently has no brick-and-mortar office.)
Arceneaux says The Well building especially was layer upon layer of shoddy construction and unsafe conditions requiring a lot of rehab, but he also admits that he didn’t realize during the renovation that the mosaic murals might have some community significance. “I really just considered that part of the signage,” he says. “I know now it had some sentimental meaning, but it wasn’t historic and nobody from AOC or any other stakeholders tried to contact me to deal with it or preserve it.”
MAY 17 Here's a column from James Gill, this time in the Advocate. Gill, who has jumped ship from the Picayune, writes about the absurdity of dueling polls in this post. The numbers are so wildly different, it is obvious that both sides are "cooking the books," he writes. In particular, he looks at Sen. Mary Landrieu, and how her recent actions in DC have been received by those polled. Gill's acerbic, amusing prose is a welcome addition to a paper so conservative as to be occasionally lacking in personality.
MAY 17 Blogger Tom Aswell continues delivering bombshells about the state education department and Gov. Jindal's education "reform" efforts. In this post, he reports that students in the Shreveport area have been signed up for a charter school without their knowledge or consent. Most interesting to Aswell is how this Texas-based charter (with ties to GOP types) got the personal student information it has, if the students didn't give it.
MAY 17 This post by JR Ball in the Baton Rouge Business Report is an interesting tongue-in-cheek look at recent Baton Rouge economic development efforts. Among the items he examines is the idea that gaining a Costco makes BR a "world-class city." (Really? All you need is a different brand of Sam's? MK!) This effort, and other recent ones, are all built on the taxpayer's back, with tax zones, tax incentives and tax rebates, Ball writes.
MAY 17 Blogger CB Forgotston is critical of the legislature's reliance on a revenue-estimating committee's decision to include projected tax amnesty income in this year's forecast. That's a problem, CB posts, because the deadline for these people to pay their taxes is June 30, 2014. So when do you think these people who haven't paid taxes in years are going to pay their taxes? Surely not before June 30, and that means the money won't be there for this year's budget, he argues.
MAY 17 Here's an interesting blog out of California by a Hollywood writer, attorney and academic named Brian Alan Lane. He blogs about higher ed, and was a whistle-blower in a scandal over false credentials. In this post, he takes aim at LSU's new top dog, King Alexander. It's convoluted and a little confusing, but it sure makes Alexander a lot more interesting than he was yesterday.
MAY 17 Blogger Robert Mann writes about the LSU Board's refusal to allow Dr. Fred Cerise to testify before the legislature about Gov. Jindal's plan to close down all the state's charity hospitals and dump the poor on the private system. It's hard to imagine anyone more qualified than Cerise to testify about that, so why would anyone try to prevent him doing so? Mann thinks it is because the powers that be aren't interested in hearing any truth about the plan.
MAY 17 This post on the Louisiana Sinkhole Bugle, a blog that notes developments in the Bayou Corne and Jefferson Island salt domes, talks about a proposed expansion of the salt dome storage under Lake Peigneur in Iberia Parish. Residents are working against it for several reasons, including two biggies: the sinkhole disaster in Bayou Corne and the continuing, unexplained bubbling on the surface of the Lake.
MAY 17 NOLA police arrested more people Thursday accused of either being involved in the Mother's Day shooting or hiding the suspect afterward, this Gambit story reports. The NOLA police chief said he suspects the whole thing was gang-related and throws out a challenge to the gangs: he's got informants now, he says, and he knows a lot more than the gangs want him to know. The people who live in the neighborhoods terrorized by gangs are ready to talk, he says.
Is it a crime for citizens to photograph, video, or take notes of a police officer in the line of duty, or a right protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution? Locally, such activity, as witnessed recently, will at the very least result in a night spent behind bars.
David Calhoun and Elizabeth “EB” Brooks are the first two employees of Lafayette Central Park Inc., the nonprofit charged with turning Lafayette Consolidated Government’s 100-acre Johnston Street Horse Farm property into a passive public park. Calhoun was named executive director, and Brooks is director of planning and design.
Episcopal School of Acadiana’s Dr. Joshua Caffery, chair of the school’s English Department, is headed to Washington, D.C., and the Library of Congress as the latest winner of the Alan Lomax Fellowship in Folklife Studies.