For the dozens of Lafayette residents still waiting for their prepaid furniture and décor to arrive from the now defunct W. Home Furnishings in River Ranch, a group of Baton Rouge shoppers is looking to join your victims’ club.
In The Independent’s Aug. 31 cover story “Warding Off,” numerous angry W. Home Furnishings customers shared their stories on pre-paying for thousands of dollars worth of furniture they never received from W. owners Rene and Nina Ward. As patrons like Cherie Hebert and Ryan Burley pressed on to find out the status of their merchandise, First Bank and Trust stepped in to seize the store’s assets, officially closing the business on Aug. 18.
The Wards, who lived in River Ranch and opened a second fine furniture store in Baton Rouge late last year, skipped town in the middle of the night, and now the bank has filed a lawsuit seeking payment and interest on a $150,000 business loan that hasn’t been paid in months, according to court documents filed by First Bank and Trust. The bank is also trying to secure the assets that Rene Ward stashed in a storage unit on Feu Follet Road.
Perkins Rowe General Manager Rick Balow of Baton Rouge was out of the country when the W. Home Furnishings fiasco culminated. He returned to find that the Wards fled the state without paying their last month’s rent in Baton Rouge, but Balow says he could have dealt with that blow better had he not personally been stiffed on $12,000 worth of prepaid furniture and décor from W. Home Furnishings.
When the Wards approached Balow about renting a space in Perkins Rowe, he visited their Lafayette location and thought it would be an ideal furniture fit for the retail center. Balow says he hired Nina Ward to redecorate an apartment complex building he owns. The entire project was going to cost more than $50,000, he says, the first $12,000 of which had already been paid.
“From what I’m hearing, they did the same thing here that they did in Lafayette,” Balow says. “There are a number of people who ordered furniture, paid deposits or paid in full and never received their merchandise.”
The Lafayette Police Department is investigating at least six complaints against the Wards that date back to November 2010, says Lafayette Police spokesman Cpl. Paul Mouton. Detectives have subpoenaed computer records to determine where the money was spent, but it could be months before the investigation is complete.
MAY 23 Here's a story in the Picayune about some statistics that must come as a blow to folks who believe that any private school can do a better job of educating kids than any public school: Danielle Dreilinger reports that only 30 percent of the voucher kids are passing. That's less than half of the state wide average, she says. It's an interesting statistic because most of the schools (if not all) taking voucher kids have never had their students' standardized test scores released to the public before.
MAY 23 Stephen Sabludowsky blogs on Bayou Buzz about auditor requests here. Recently the state GOP started crowing about a request from the Legislative Auditor, claiming they were being targeted because of their anti-tax stance. (Uh, your what?) Denial and hyperbole aside, the state Democratic party blew holes in that theory with an email announcing they'd received the same request, Sabludowsky writes here.
MAY 23 Jim Brown blogs about the senate race in this post. He says that, given Bobby Jindal's "lack of traction" on the national stage, it might make more sense for the governor to consider running against Mary Landrieu for the senate seat. Since Tim Teeple left the Cassidy team, it makes sense he might land on a Jindal for Senate team, Brown opines.
MAY 23 In this Louisiana Voice post, blogger Tom Aswell writes of rumors that his nemesis, state Superintendent of Education John White, may be soon departing Louisiana for a federal post. It's hard to believe, given his performance, Aswell says, but stranger things have happened. An anti-White BESE member says that, if true, White is quitting before he can be fired.
MAY 23 In this post on American Zombie, blogger Jason Berry writes about the Mother's Day shooting. Mayor Landrieu said that "this is not who we are," but the fact is, this is New Orleans, Berry writes. The violence infused in the city is the result of a culture created by "sins of omission or sins of commission," Berry writes. It's not a problem that can be solved by legislating, policing, praying or publicizing, he says: Someone's got to understand what's happening first.
MAY 23 This post in the Westside Journal tells us what Port Allen Mayor Deedy has been up to lately: vetoing ordinances, apparently. This story is most interesting, however, when it delves into a petition that has been circulating around the city lately. It accuses the former mayor of a lot of nasty things; the former mayor says it is full of lies and "broken syntax" which may be a larger offense in his eyes.
MAY 23 This editorial posted in The Advocate is a bit confusing. The writing is poor - definitely not up to the usual editorial writing standard there - and the point is hard to grasp. Apparently, the writer is saying that privatization of state efforts is OK, as long as there is oversight and transparency, but Jindal's not good at that, and the legislature shouldn't over-react. Okey Dokey. Can't they get one of them Pulitzer-winning people to write an editorial?
MAY 23 This post on The Lens gives you links to a new Google Earth tool that allows you to see any spot on earth transform over the past 30 years. Bob Marshall, who covers the coast for the paper, says that in the case of Louisiana's coastline, it's possibly something you don't want to see, because it's not a pretty picture. There are several clips here, showing critical areas erode away. For Marshall, it was vindication for all those times he was met with eye-rolling when he talked about erosion.
David Calhoun and Elizabeth “EB” Brooks are the first two employees of Lafayette Central Park Inc., the nonprofit charged with turning Lafayette Consolidated Government’s 100-acre Johnston Street Horse Farm property into a passive public park. Calhoun was named executive director, and Brooks is director of planning and design.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.