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
So far the Democratic agenda includes proposals to expand Medicaid; increase the minimum wage; offer equal pay to women; heighten regulations on predatory lending practices, like payday loans; and add more transparency in the governor’s office.
Hot-button education issues ranging from Common Core to charter schools have some lawmakers pushing to scrap the appointing process and go back to electing the state's super.
Police say the handcuffed man fatally shot himself in the back, but his family isn't buying the story.
Gov. Bobby Jindal offered a budget proposal that suggests new education and health care spending, pay raises for state workers and an incentive fund to encourage colleges to enhance their science, engineering and technology training.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Tuesday, March 11, 2014:
Hopefully he’ll be better prepared today than he was in that Feb. 20 deposition.
They came by the hundreds, arriving from all regions of the state to gather on the steps of our Capitol in protest of the Legislature’s long tradition of giving industry the go-ahead to abuse our air, our water and our coastline, all in the name of good economics.
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s recent rhetoric against President Barack Obama has failed to boost his standing among the conservative base.
Louisiana's annual legislative session begins.
The state has hired marksmen to shoot feral hogs from helicopters at two wildlife management areas in south Louisiana.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has stalled action on a $3.5 billion annual school funding formula due to state lawmakers by March 15.
The New Orleans Saints have yet to make it official as of this writing, but popular wide receiver Lance Moore has reportedly been cut by the team to free up salary-cap space on the roster.
While two medical marijuana bills are slated for the upcoming legislative session, what some Louisianans might not know is that the plant was approved for therapeutic use by state lawmakers in 1991.
The agenda is shaping up to be lighter than in previous years. But Jindal is term-limited, with fewer than two years remaining in office, and he saw his last big initiative — a proposed rewrite of Louisiana tax law — collapse without getting a vote in 2013.
Sharper has been held without bail because of an arrest warrant issued by Louisiana authorities accusing him and another man of raping two women.
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
The Lafayette Parish School Board leaves a lot to be desired, but is scrapping the election process in favor of an appointed board the answer?
The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.