Blake White doesn't have much of a track record in the restaurant business. The 27-year-old was an insurance inspector up until last month, when he put a deposit down to buy Black's Seafood Restaurant and Oyster Bar. Bryan Bourque, second generation owner of the famous oyster restaurant, says he will be happy to see the restaurant reopen once the act of sale goes through. "This came out of nowhere," Bourque says. "One Thursday this guy calls, and I met with him the next day. His daddy gave me a deposit to take it off the market over the weekend. Monday, they called and said there were ready to roll. That was January 8th."
White, who lives on Cow Island, says his main experience with restaurants is that he ate at Black's three times a week up until Sept. 1, when the venerable Abbeville institution shut its doors. His plans are to follow in Bourque's footsteps, keeping the traditional menu of raw, boiled and fried seafood dishes, gumbos, etouffees and "some new dishes still in the making." White plans to have the doors to the 16,000-square-foot restaurant and bar re-opened some time between the end of February and mid-March. "We're going to do it, the whole nine yards," White says. "I love a challenge." ' Mary Tutwiler
MASTER PLAN FOR COAST COMING
A second draft of a new master plan for coastal restoration and hurricane protection is scheduled to be released this week. The original version addressed a few controversial topics such as abandoning parts of lower Plaquemines Parish to bolster more northerly areas, closing the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet shipping channel near New Orleans and establishing floodgates and dikes in relation to Borgne and Pontchartrain lakes. Chris Macaluso, a spokesperson for the Governor's Office of Coastal Activities, says most of the plan's major sections are still in course. "I wouldn't expect too many significant changes," he says.
Similar strategies for recovery and protection have been released by the state in the past, but the intent of this new master plan is to pull all efforts ' levees, freshwater diversions, dikes, locks, floodgates and other mechanisms ' under one umbrella. The Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority has been leading the effort ever since Katrina and Rita devastated the shoreline, working alongside a team of scientists, parish government officials, federal researchers and others. Three public meetings will be held throughout south Louisiana in coming weeks, then the plan will undergo legislative debate this spring. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will make its review and, finally, it will be included in the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Plan, which Congress will vote on possibly later this year. ' Jeremy Alford
LAWMAKERS SCRAMBLE FOR ROAD MONEY
Potholes are bad all over, access issues are plaguing economic development, and there's an election coming up. Throw a huge surplus of money into the cement mixer and there's no wonder why lawmakers are scrambling for road money. The state has $827 million in budget surplus dollars from the second half of last year, and Rep. Mike Walsworth, a Republican from West Monroe, wants to dedicate $400 million to roads and $50 million to ports. It's all part of a plan he'll introduce during the spring regular session, and it calls for an additional $200 million to go to roads from the anticipated surplus from the current year. Walsworth says the noise from his district is deafening.
"You don't need a national report to tell you our roads need massive help," he says. On the other side of the aisle, Sen. Reggie Dupre, a Democrat from Bourg, is hoping to cash in on the state's recent cash-flow boom by dedicating half of the excess mineral revenues that are usually deposited into the general fund to construction of roads and coastal protections. The state Constitution currently dedicates the first $850 million of state mineral revenue in various ways, and anything above that threshold is placed in the state's Rainy Day Fund. Once that fund is full, Dupre's legislation proposes to move 50 percent of the remaining dollars into his construction program. Even though state mineral production has been declining in recent years, the state has continued to enjoy hefty profits because of record oil prices in 2006 ' a formula that may be prompting lawmakers to hedge their bets too wildly, Dupre says. The excess mineral revenues identified in the legislation are currently treated as recurring revenue, Dupre adds, meaning money that is expected to be in the budget every year. "It would be much wiser for us to reinvest some of this excess revenue into Louisiana's infrastructure needs," he says. ' JA
BOASSO MAKES IT OFFICIAL
Monday's statement from Republican state Sen. Walter Boasso of Arabi couldn't have been more direct. "The state is a mess and somebody has got to clean it up," he said. "I've decided I'm the one to do it."
With that, Boasso officially announced his candidacy for governor. He joins Republican Rep. Bobby Jindal and Libertarian candidate T. Lee Horne III as challengers to Gov. Kathleen Blanco. The rumor mill for other potential candidates keeps churning out a trio of Democrats: Shaw Group CEO Jim Bernhard, Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell and U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon. ' Scott Jordan
HOW WAS THE UNIVERSE CREATED?
If you're geeking out for some great computer-science news, Louisiana has leaped most other Southern states to secure a site on the Open Science Grid, a global consortium of universities and laboratories connected via the Internet. Through LSU and Louisiana Tech, the state's computing ability has skyrocketed and its researchers are participating in one of the most advanced and fastest growing grid environments in the world. The concept is simple: By connecting with computer stations in Germany, Chicago or elsewhere, Louisiana can tap into the network and share its resources, meaning everything from computing power to actual research from other teams. For instance, Dick Greenwood, a physics professor at Louisiana Tech, is working on something dubbed ATLAS, a next-generation physics project based in Switzerland. As its title suggests, this is a lofty one. Scientists from all over the world are working together to conduct research on the fundamental nature of matter, with the goal of providing more insight into the creation of the universe. ' JA
Safety Jairus Byrd practiced with the New Orleans Saints on Tuesday for the first time since his signing in March.
Sentencing has been delayed for a businessman who provided key testimony in the corruption case that resulted in the conviction of former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin.
The spectre of priest sex abuse has returned to haunt the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lafayette following the recent release of an investigative report by Minnesota Public Radio, revealing new allegations of another child predator hiding behind the clerical collar.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Times Square impersonator crackdown; Israel shells Gaza school; Russia hit with sanctions and more national and international news for Wednesday, July 30, 2014.
The sponsor of a Louisiana law that requires doctors that perform abortions to have hospital admitting privileges doesn't believe the provision is in jeopardy after a federal appeals court struck down a similar Mississippi law.
Louisiana's state school board has jumped into a lawsuit against Gov. Bobby Jindal that accuses the governor of illegally meddling in education policy through his efforts to block Common Core education standards.
Here's how one nationally recognized conservative political pundit reacted upon hearing the news Monday that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was leaning toward an endorsement of Louisiana’s lone Democrat senator.
With the qualifying deadline for Lafayette Parish School Board elections quickly approaching, a series of candidate forums have been announced by the Lafayette Parish Public Education Stakeholders Council.
The investigation and potential prosecution of the man charged in the recent hit-and-run death of a Youngsville cyclist won’t happen overnight, according to local law enforcement officials.
Louisiana's state school board is holding a special meeting to consider whether to sue Gov. Bobby Jindal in an ongoing dispute over the Common Core education standards.
A bipartisan congressional deal to help improve veterans' health care access includes approval for new veterans clinics in Lafayette and Lake Charles.
It wouldn’t be a first, however, as the Chamber has thrown money behind Landrieu before.
The Democratic incumbent, seeking her fourth term in office, is a strong supporter of the Export-Import Bank, which helps finance exports of U.S. companies.
The world is a politically tense place these days with hot spots ranging from the Middle East to Ukraine. In Louisiana and Mississippi, where the political chessboard tends to be a lot less threatening and at times entertaining, this election season is living up to expectations.
Louisiana has joined nine other states in support of Indiana’s appeal of a federal judge’s ruling that the Hoosier State’s ban on sam-sex marriage violates the Constitution.
The Saints are being cautious in an effort to minimize risk of re-injury.
LSU Health Sciences Center says people with a common, hard-to-treat kind of lung cancer can join a new national trial to test drugs faster.
As New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis spoke about the opening of training camp, steep, tree-covered mountains were in full view behind them.
The family of fallen cyclist Lon Lomas is speaking out after the release this week of the man charged with his death.
"The solutions are obvious: undo consolidation, or amend the charter to make this hybrid attempt at a new form of government work better."
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is considering whether to get involved in a lawsuit against Gov. Bobby Jindal for his attempts to undermine use of the Common Core education standards in Louisiana's public schools.
The latest meeting of a south Louisiana flood board that stirred political turmoil with a lawsuit against the oil and gas industry is taking place amid uncertainty over the future of the lawsuit — and the board's own membership.
The photos taken nearly a mile under the Gulf of Mexico are so clear that small holes are visible in a lifeboat that may have gone down or been scuttled when a passenger ship was sunk by a Nazi submarine in 1942.
Advocate columnist and Jindal shill Quin Hillyer has been against the New Orleans levee board lawsuit from day one, but a recent piece targeting author/activist John Barry prompted the perfect rebuttal from the board’s former vice-president, who takes Hillyer to task on just about every distorted claim he’s made on the issue.