Louisiana Heritage & Gifts to close its doors, the audit of New Iberia and more
LAMENTING LOUISIANA HERITAGE & GIFTS

On Feb. 19, the day before Mardi Gras, Louisiana Heritage & Gifts will close its doors after almost five years in business. The shop is one of the last independently owned stores carrying a healthy selection of south Louisiana music. LH&G also sells Cajun and zydeco instruments, hosted a weekly jam session, offered accordion and fiddle lessons and was a popular hangout for local musicians, with The Pine Leaf Boys' Wilson Savoy once calling it "the Cajun YMCA."

"It's just too much," says Lisa Reed, who owns and runs the store with her husband, Mitch Reed. Touring with BeauSoleil and Charivari took Mitch away from the shop, as did Lisa's newly started financial services business. Lisa says the decision to close doesn't mean the shop was in financial trouble, but it didn't make enough for them to abandon their other endeavors. "It was coming along, but not far enough along," says Lisa. The Reeds decided to remain open until Mardi Gras, as sales from visiting tourists are brisk during Carnival season. Until then, the store is holding a closeout sale on merchandise, with many popular titles in stock.

The Saturday afternoon jam session will move to McGee's Landing in Henderson, while the music lessons ' fiddle taught by Mitch and accordion by Steve Riley ' have already been halted. Different businesses have offered to carry LH&G's leftover merchandise, but nothing is definite. "It was a labor of love," Lisa says. "It was truly something we wanted to do, but you have to make a living." ' Nick Pittman

AUDIT SPURS RESIGNATION?

Speculation over the imminent release of a legislative audit's findings is helping shape the field of candidates in Iberia Parish for the 2007 elections. On Jan. 3, Iberia Parish Chief Administrative Officer Simone Champagne tendered her letter of resignation to Parish President Will Langlinais with the intention of running for District 49, the seat of term-limited state Rep. Troy Hebert. Champagne, who originally planned to announce her candidacy closer to September qualifying, is leaving her job and made her official announcement Friday, Jan. 5.

She made her move in advance of the Iberia Parish Council receiving the results of a legislative audit revolving around her boss, Langlinais. The audit was initially requested by Iberia Parish Councilman Bernard Broussard in an April 2006 letter to 16th Judicial District Attorney Phil Haney. Broussard requested Haney's help in dealing with "certain questionable contractual arrangements that have been executed by the Parish President with various contractors over the past few years." According to Haney in the Jan. 4 Daily Iberian, the auditors "interviewed the last person they had to interview [Langlinais]. That meant they could be putting the final touches on it hopefully over the holidays. So, it could be getting to the parish council and parish president within 10 days to two weeks."

The specific contract that set the audit in motion was between attorney Shane Romero and Langlinais. Shane Romero is the son of term-limited State Rep. Romo Romero. It is widely speculated that Shane Romero will run for his father's seat in October. Councilman Broussard is considered a candidate for Langlinais' seat should the embattled parish president run for re-election this fall.

Hebert plans to announce his race for term-limited Craig Romero's District 22 Senate seat soon.

Qualifying is Sept. 4-6; elections will be held Oct. 20. ' Mary Tutwiler

MELANCON YAWNS AT GOVERNOR SPECULATION

Rep. Charlie Melancon acts as if he wasn't privy to the recent onslaught of media roundups on the upcoming gubernatorial election ' many of which included his name as a potential contender. "If I told you I've spent five or 10 seconds thinking about it, I'd be lying to you," says the second-term Democrat from Napoleonville. "It's not even on my front-burner, but I never say never to anything." His name has been batted around endlessly ever since Bob Mann, former communications director for sitting Gov. Kathleen Blanco, also a Democrat, mentioned Melancon during a speech in November. At the time, Melancon's campaign staff insisted the buzz had been building much longer, just not as prominently.

Melancon, who represents the 3rd Congressional District that stretches from Acadiana to Plaquemines Parish, may be content with his current position in Congress, which includes a Democratic majority and a seat on the Energy and Commerce Committee. "I'm more interested in the job I have to do right now," he says. ' Jeremy Alford

BOUSTANY, BAKER LAND TRANSPORTATION POSTS

With Louisiana's constant needs for infrastructure and coastal restoration, it's welcome news that two congressmen from the state have landed keys roles on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Republican Rep. Richard Baker of Baton Rouge has been tapped to be the ranking member of the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee, which regularly handles infrastructure bills for Louisiana. Its jurisdiction consists generally of matters relating to water resources development, conservation and management ' as well as oversight of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "This is really an opportunity for me to take a strong role in steering policy and resources," Baker says.

Meanwhile, second-term Republican Rep. Charles Boustany of Lafayette has retained his seat on the transportation committee, despite the Democratic majority. The completion of I-49 and other infrastructure issues top his list. In concert with Baker, Boustany should be able to place Louisiana center stage in many debates. "With increased seniority on the committee," he says, "I look forward to continuing to highlight these issues throughout the next two years." ' JA

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