St. Thomas More grad Mark Graham, critically injured in Iraq Friday, March 2, died last Wednesday. In its initial report, CNN wrote, "Two American soldiers and an interpreter died and a third U.S. soldier was wounded when a roadside bomb exploded northwest of the capital, the military said. The soldiers, from Multi-National Division-Baghdad, were on a routine route-clearance patrol northwest of the capital ' to assess the safety of the road ' when the incident occurred."
Graham was flown to San Antonio after the attack. His wife, Stephanie, and his parents, Neil and Kim Graham, were with him when he died. Both Mark and Stephanie McElligott Graham graduated from STM in 2002. ' Leslie Turk
BERTRAND RUNNING FOR CITY-PARISH COUNCIL
Don Bertrand, an independent petroleum landman and until recently "Rightblog" columnist for The Daily Advertiser, is running for the District 7 city-parish council seat being vacated next year by Marc Mouton. An active member of the parish Republican Executive Committee and the Lafayette Transportation Policy Committee, Bertrand says he was inspired to run partly by the large turnover on the council this year. Four councilmen are prevented by term limits from seeking re-election, and Councilmen Bobby Badeaux and Marc Mouton are opting not to run again this year. "It's a watershed moment," Bertand says. "I think it's kind of exciting times; Lafayette has a lot going for it, and I think it might be time for a facelift on the council." Elections for city-parish council will be held in October. ' Nathan Stubbs
OLD ABDALLA'S SITE GETS MAJOR OVERHAUL
On March 6, Lafayette real estate developer/broker Cecil Trahan purchased the old Abdalla's Oil Center building, 900 E. St. Mary Blvd., from co-owners Charles Chatelain and Barbara Abdalla Black. Trahan paid $4.5 million for the building and is converting it into office spaces. "Once it's complete, the building will be worth $10.5 million," Trahan says.
Lafayette architect Jay Chase is turning the two-story, 72,000-square-foot space into an office complex with suites that will rent for $19 to $22 per square foot. Renovations to the box start in two weeks and should take five months, at which time tenant improvements will begin as leases are signed. "I can't disclose anything at this time," Trahan says of potential tenants. ' LT
LA. REPUBLICAN PARTY GUBERNATORIAL ENDORSEMENT?
Rep. Bobby Jindal's massive campaign chest and sizeable lead over incumbent Gov. Kathleen Blanco is creating one headache for the Louisiana Republican Party. The party always endorses the Republican candidate if only one is running, but now that state Sen. Walter Boasso's officially in the race, it gets a little trickier. Endorse Jindal now to try and coalesce support around him? Endorse neither and let 'em duke it out? Or wait a while before choosing to endorse Jindal, Boasso or another Republican candidate? And if the wait-and-see approach prevails, how long does the party wait?
The Louisiana Republican Party starts trudging through that sticky wicket at the Cajundome this Saturday, March 17. The one-day meeting is open to the public, and endorsement policies are on the agenda. For more info on the meeting, call (225) 928-2998. ' Scott Jordan
HIT THE BOUDIN TRAIL
The Southern Foodways Alliance ' an institute of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture headquartered at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, has launched an oral history initiative to capture the stories behind the great cooking of the South. Naturally, Louisiana is a destination for food folklorists, and they have created two online chapters ' the Boudin Trail and the Gumbo Trail. Local boudin maven Bob Carriker, who created the Boudin Link, a comprehensive boudin-rating Web site, weighs in as an authority on our favorite snack, and an interactive map gives locations and driving directions for those who can't make it to The Best Stop blindfolded. For more info, visit southernfoodways.com. ' Mary Tutwiler
COUNCIL GRANDFATHERS DOWNTOWN PEANUT VENDOR
Last year represented the first time in the past 16 years that 85-year-old Vic Kilchrist wasn't out on the Jefferson Street sidewalk selling his roasted peanuts during Festival International. That's because city police informed him that his old mobile peanut roaster was in violation of a new city-parish ordinance governing pushcarts. Last week, the Lafayette City-Parish Council approved an ordinance that exempted "antique pushcarts" from the new rules. Councilman Chris Williams says the ordinance will grandfather in Kilchrist to any regulations for downtown vendors. "He was downtown when nobody else wanted to be downtown," Williams says. "Now that downtown is hot they want to regulate him out. This is geared specifically towards him to help him out as an icon in the city of Lafayette." ' NS
11.5 ACRES NEXT TO PINHOOK HILTON BOUGHT FOR $3 MILLION
Dr. S.L. Sethi of Canton, Miss., developer/owner of the Hilton Garden Inn on UL Lafayette property on West Congress Street, purchased 11.5 acres that adjoins the Pinhook Road Hilton hotel site for approximately $3 million. According to records in the Lafayette Parish Clerk of Court's office, Sethi's company, Lodging America at the Vermilion River LLC, purchased the land ' which has about seven vacant buildings on it, most in disrepair ' from River Plaza Corp. of Lafayette. River Plaza is owned by several Ashy family members and attorney Bennett Voorhies Jr.
Eddie Mouton of the local real estate company J. Alfred Mouton Inc., who brokered the real estate transaction, says several of the buildings were leased until a couple of years ago by different entities, including Seabulk Shipping, Langford Engineering and the Louisiana Department of Corrections. He says the buildings were originally constructed for oilfield companies like Exxon, Chevron and Texaco and that all but one will be demolished. Mouton is unaware of Sethi's plans for the property, but speculation in real estate circles is that Sethi will likely construct a hotel and restaurants at the site. The property has Pinhook Road frontage, is bordered by the Hilton and Vermilion River on the south and is accessed by Calco Boulevard. Reached on his cell phone, Sethi declined comment. ' LT
STATE'S BUSINESSES REBOUNDING POST-KATRINA AND RITA
The new Louisiana Business Recovery Report finds that business is finally rebounding from hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The groundbreaking report shows the storms' major impact on companies in St. Bernard, Orleans and Cameron parishes. Initially the state lost upwards of 5,000 businesses and continued to lose more through the first quarter of 2006. However, the tide began to turn during the second quarter, and a year after the storms the state had 2,270 fewer firms.
"This report confirms what we've heard anecdotally from employers and business owners across the state," says Lafayette businessman Matt Stuller, chair of the Louisiana Recovery Authority's Economic and Workforce Development Committee. "The back-to-back storms devastated thousands of Louisiana businesses." Stuller says retail trade and service sectors were particularly hard hit. ' LT
ETHICS BOARD RULES ON BODIN
At a March 8 meeting, the Louisiana Ethics Board issued a ruling concerning the hire of former New Iberia Mayor Bobby Bodin for Iberia Parish Government chief administrative officer. The board concluded that the Code of Governmental Ethics would prohibit Bodin, who has been an independent insurance agent for AFLAC for the past 13 years, from "providing compensated services to AFLAC Insurance Co. who has existing contracts with parish employees while he serves as CAO." Bodin has said that he will cease working for AFLAC should he be hired by Iberia Parish President Will Langlinais, a move that should clear up any conflict of interest concerning the ethics board.
On March 14, the Iberia Parish Council is slated to vote on the hire based on the ethics ruling. If Bodin is hired, he will assume parish duties the next day. ' MT
FX DEBUTS LOUISIANA'S RICHES
On Monday, the FX Network introduced us to The Riches. The new TV series focuses on Wayne and Dahlia Malloy ' Louisiana con artists out on the road with their kids in their RV ' who stumble upon an affluent and dead couple named Rich. The Malloys assume their identities, and a television series ensues. Cross-dressing British comedian Eddie Izzard portrays Wayne ("patriarch to a family of Irish Travellers in rural Louisiana") and British actress Minnie Driver is Dahlia. The Riches was created by the Moscow-born Dmitry Lipkin, who moved to Louisiana at the age of 10 and learned to speak English by watching too much television. ' R. Reese Fuller
BRANDON STOKLEY A SAINT?
The New Orleans Saints visited last week with free agent wide receiver Brandon Stokley, the Comeaux and UL Lafayette grad cut recently by the Indianapolis Colts in a salary-cap move. Stokley was put on injured reserve last year after rupturing his Achilles Tendon but hopes to be ready for spring workouts.
If 30-year-old Stokley's healthy, he could be a good match for the Saints. He's a high-character guy that fits the mold of Sean Payton's team, and the Saints need a gritty possession receiver now that Joe Horn's officially gone over to the dark side and signed with the Atlanta Falcons. ' SJ
GRANT STREET'S ORIGINAL OWNERS BUY SOMEWHERE'S ELSE
The Somewhere's Else Lounge has been purchased by the duo that started the downtown Lafayette musical landmark Grant Street Dancehall in 1980. Loren Farmer says he and partner Mike Hanisee believe live local music for patrons has become "obscenely over-priced." He adds, "We intend to bring extraordinarily talented people at very reasonable prices." Farmer says there will be few tables and chairs in the club, leaving plenty of room for dancing, with an emphasis on showcasing younger regional bands. "It's not going to be tried and true stuff," he adds. The Surrey Street club is scheduled to re-open in April. ' RRF
CITY GARDEN MARKET CLOSES
The bustling Saturday farmer's market on the Town Square at River Ranch is no more. After a year-and-a-half, the customer base had dwindled down to too few shoppers to make it worth the trek from her farm in Scott, says organic farmer Dawn Gotreaux. Her family farm sells vegetables, free range chicken and turkey, and tilapia. Started in June 2005 by horticulturist Leslie Barton, who had participated in the New Orleans Crescent City Market, the City Garden Market offered fresh produce, prepared foods, crafts, plants and entertainment. "It was great in the beginning," Gotreaux says. "After about 10 months, though, we just didn't have the traffic. I'm not sure why." Gotreaux is actively looking for another location to market her produce and says that other vendors from the market are searching as well. Gotreaux can be reached at 873-0383. ' MT
DISNEY'S FIRST BLACK PRINCESS IS FROM NEW ORLEANS
In New Orleans last week, Walt Disney Studios announced its next animated musical will feature its first black princess ' who will also be from New Orleans.
"From the heart of Louisiana's mystical bayous and the banks of the mighty Mississippi comes an unforgettable tale of love, enchantment and discovery with a soulful singing crocodile, voodoo spells and Cajun charm at every turn," Disney proclaimed in its announcement.
The Frog Princess, set for release in 2009, will introduce Maddy, "a young African-American girl living amid the charming elegance and grandeur of the fabled French Quarter." Legendary songwriter and Oscar and Grammy-winning composer Randy Newman has been tapped for the film's musical score, and the story was penned by John Musker and Ron Clements, the duo behind The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and Hercules. ' RRF
MELLINGTON LEAVING DDA/LEDA FOR HOMEBANK
Brett Mellington, who for the past two years has served as downtown business services development manager, a $60,000 post funded by DDA and LEDA, is cutting his three-year contract short to join HomeBank. Before taking the DDA/LEDA economic development position, Mellington worked at Our Lady of Lourdes for three decades. At HomeBank, Mellington says he will manage the Jefferson Street operations and focus on business development, primarily in the downtown area.
Mellington, 56, is an active community leader who serves as chairman of the board for the Louisiana Community and Technical College System. LEDA's Gregg Gothreaux says no decision has been made on his replacement. "We're going to take some time to see where we are and how best to move forward with our partnership with DDA," he says. ' LT
COCK OF THE WALK
Louisiana is used to the spotlight every year when the Legislature debates a ban on cockfighting. But right now the New Mexico Legislature is grabbing headlines for its cockfighting prohibition, largely because the state's two-term Democratic governor, Bill Richardson, is vying for his party's presidential nomination. Pinckney A. Wood, president of the Health, Education and Abuse Resolution Taskforce, says the Louisiana Legislature will be heeing and hawing over the issue again soon: "Sen. Art Lentini, [a Republican from Metairie] says he is ready to continue his anti-cockfighting efforts of last year, and he intends to file an anti-cockfighting bill in the upcoming session that begins April 30th." ' Jeremy Alford
Despite sweeping changes enacted by Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration, the health insurance program for state workers and public school employees will have to use $88 million from its reserve fund to cover its costs this year.
The LPSB races are sure to get heated between now and Nov. 4, and with only 9 available seats, this year's field of 20 candidates will surely be wanting to set themselves apart from the crowd early; they'll get their chance next week, starting Tuesday with the kick-off of a three-day series of candidate forums.
Lawmakers say they've received complaints that waits have spiked, with people being forced to wait in line for more than an hour — and sometimes three hours — to handle routine tasks.
The campaign announced that Rep. Stuart Bishop of District 43 and Nancy Landry, District 31, have thrown their support behind the Naval Academy graduate and entrepreneur in his bid to unseat current Hunter Beasley in District 8.
A Lafayette man with an alleged taste for child porn was busted Thursday evening during a cyber crime sting launched by the Attorney General’s Office.
U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister says his chief of staff is on temporary leave after being booked with drunken driving.
It was a rare moment in Congress this week as Republicans briefly put aside partisanship in support of President Barack Obama's request to train and arm Syrian rebels, and while a number of Democrats opposed the measure, Louisiana's Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu found herself on the same side of the issue as her Republican challenger Rep. Bill Cassidy.
Home Depot breach bigger than Target; Alibaba IPO could be big; Rivers' last project and more national and international news for Friday, September 19, 2014.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
City-Parish President Joey Durel is asking the council to sign off on a resolution approving a pair of deals that would lead to razing the seedy Lesspay Motel at Four Corners to build a new police substation as well as transforming nearly a block Downtown where the old federal courthouse building now molders into a mixed-use development.
In 2013, the IRS — already the least popular governmental agency in the country — became the target of intense investigations after it was revealed that they had specifically and improperly scrutinized applications for tax-exempt status from organizations associated with the nascent Tea Party movement.
Improving the running game was "a point of emphasis" during the offseason and the results have manifested themselves in the form of substantially greater production.
Louisiana's health department said Wednesday that its evaluation of the state's Medicaid privatization was on target, despite criticism from the legislative auditor that it lacked key data and contained inconsistencies.
The feds converge on your office, seizing records on several employees as part of a pay-for-plea investigation. WWYD? If you’re Mike Harson, you give yourself a $12k raise.
It’s football season and after back-to-back winless weekends for the Saints and the Cajuns many citizens are finding it difficult to be civil much less happy. Well, chew on this.
Considering his repeated stays in the local penal system, David Narcisse Jr. should have known that having a semiautomatic shotgun, even one given to him by a friend, wasn’t the brightest of ideas.
A state district judge on Tuesday threw out a last-minute retirement hike lawmakers gave to the state police superintendent, ending a political firestorm over a pension boost passed without public scrutiny on the last day of the legislative session.
The House has passed a bill to increase oversight of veterans' hospitals under construction, following a report that some medical centers take three years longer to complete than estimated and cost an extra $366 million per project.
An obvious follow-up question for any Republican politician who accuses Democrats of being science deniers is one about science, to which Jindal bobbed and weaved like a welterweight champ.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council is expected to decide tonight (Tuesday) whether to go along with a proposal City-Parish President Joey Durel made in February’s State of the Parish Address and consolidate taxes for mosquito control and the parish health units into a broader tax program that would also cover animal control.
U.S. District Judge Richard Haik has dismissed Greg Davis’ lawsuit against the LPSB, yet in his ruling, the federal judge doesn’t bite his tongue in pointing out the "threat" being posed by certain board members.
Of all the political offices being contested throughout Lafayette Parish, the race for Broussard’s top police post has literally become one of the most heated.
A state district judge is deciding whether to issue an injunction against the enforcement of a last-minute retirement hike that lawmakers gave to the state police superintendent.
A new website is up for Louisiana's state government employees and retirees to choose their health insurance plans for next year, a choice they must make by October.
That fact that New Orleans led both games in the final 10 seconds of regulation, and lost each by a field goal or less, is of little solace.