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
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Sign "ninjas" cleaning up clutter; NYC doctor positive for Ebola; Ferguson grand jury decision nears; and more national and international news for Friday, October 24, 2014.
We can safely assume incumbent Chief K.P. Gibson isn’t too worried about this challenger.
Nationally, Republicans must gain six seats to win Senate control. The most competitive races, many in states where Obama lost in 2012, remain too close to call.
The Baton Rouge Republican has repeatedly battled a perception within his own party that he perhaps wasn't the best choice to carry the GOP banner.
Even if Jimmy Graham's production dips while the star tight end recovers from a shoulder injury, it looks like Drew Brees won't have much trouble finding other targets.
A former campaign manager for Senate candidate Rob Maness is striking at the Republican contender's tea party support, saying Maness only sought to appeal to conservative organizations because he needed money for his campaign.
Ninety-two percent of public school teachers were rated either effective or highly effective in a report the state issued marking the second year of a new statewide evaluation process.
School board members Mark Babineaux, Hunter Beasley and Tehmi Chassion can vote to fire Cooper — because we all know that’s exactly what they’ll do.
District 2 school board candidate Simon Mahan is hoping to unseat first-term incumbent and former Carencro Mayor Tommy Angelle in the Nov. 4 election.
District Attorney Mike Harson is showing his desperation by falsely attributing quotes to his opponent and blocking journalists from his social media.
The governor is traveling the country laying the groundwork for a possible 2016 presidential campaign, but his approval ratings at home hover well below 50 percent.
State District Judge Bob Downing extended the order and delayed a planned Wednesday hearing about a permanent injunction while negotiations continue between Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and the waste disposal site operator.
New Louisiana higher education commissioner Joseph Rallo will be paid more than his predecessor.
Elijah McGuire and Alonzo Harris each had four rushing touchdowns, and Louisiana-Lafayette rolled to 419 yards on the ground in a 55-40 victory over Arkansas State on Tuesday night.
Bill and Hillary Clinton are the validators-in-chief for Democrats struggling through a bleak campaign season in states where President Barack Obama is deeply unpopular.
President Barack Obama is turning to black radio listeners to plead for midterm votes, a targeted approach to drum up Democratic support at a time when many candidates don't want him around in person.
"I am extremely disheartened by the political machines that are attempting to hijack my efforts along with others that advocate for children."
Landrieu, who is fighting to keep her seat for a fourth term, said that Ebola is serious and precautions should be taken, but she accused Republicans of using the virus outbreak in West Africa to "create fear" here at home.
Law enforcement agencies are participating in a "Louisiana Heroin Summit," designed to address the recent rise in heroin use and drug-related deaths around the state.
State education officials are preparing to release performance scores for public schools and public school districts.
Saints coach Sean Payton is starting a new week by emphasizing, repeatedly, the many good things he noticed during New Orleans' latest loss.
We will be offering our recommendations on the constitutional amendments tomorrow.
The justices did not comment in leaving in place lower court rulings that dismissed the lawsuits against BP and other companies involved in the worst U.S. offshore oil spill.
White registration is down by 7,700 voters while black registration has shot up by 7,100 voters.