Located directly across Caminada Pass from Grand Isle, Elmer's Island is a continuation of one of the few land-accessible beaches in Louisiana. Camping and fishing on the 1,700-acre island was a deeply rooted family tradition for generations of south Louisiana residents, but Elmer's Island closed in 2002 in hopes a new owner would pick it up for public use again. Now it appears the federal government has finally gotten its act together.
The state's congressional delegation has secured $1.75 million through the Senate Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Bill. The money would be used to make the purchase and convert the land, ensuring the development is compatible with the state's coastal restoration efforts. "This is a critical step to the completion of the protection of the 1,700 acres for continued public use," says Larry Schmidt, director of the New Orleans branch of the Trust for Public Land. Sen. David Vitter, a Metairie Republican, says public usage is important, but the funding also addresses conservation. "Elmer's Island boasts low dunes, mud and sand flats, marsh, lagoon and a tidal channel that provide prime habitat for many species of fish and birds that should be preserved," he says. ' Jeremy Alford
CABINETS AND KATRINA COTTAGES
Once known as a destination for hot sauce and canned black-eyed peas with jalapeÃ±o peppers, the vacant Trappey plant in New Iberia will soon ring with the sound of hammers and saws. New York City-based company JDBO Modular has bought the historic property as a location to mass produce cabinet units for the building industry. Iberia Industrial Development Foundation president Mike Tarantino has been negotiating with JDBO for about 18 months, and the destructive force of last year's hurricanes and the new GoZone economic development tax credit incentives helped bring the cabinet company to the table. JDBO's production goal is approximately 1,000 kitchen units a day.
A second phase may be of more interest to local residents whose homes were destroyed by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. JDBO also manufactures modular housing, and the company folded the housing component of its business into the original plan, recognizing that it would be close to a major market for the housing. Now that the deal's been consummated, Tarantino says he plans to put JDBO in touch with the Louisiana Recovery Authority, whose architects have designed a variety of modular "Katrina cottages" for storm victims. While JDBO may be the first, Tarantino says it is not the only housing company interested in south Louisiana locations. "We've been approached by a number of modular companies over the past few months. We're pursuing relationships with them. This could be a very good industry for people who need to recover from the storm and for the city and the area." ' Mary Tutwiler
IPODS AND COLLEGE CREDIT
The Lafayette Parish School System has a new free program to allow high school seniors and graduating juniors to get an early start on their college education. UL Lafayette, South Louisiana Community College and Louisiana Technical College are all opening their doors to qualifying high school students, who can receive both high school and college credit for a variety of available courses. An informational meeting is scheduled for Aug. 1 at the Vermilion Conference Center for interested students, who also will be eligible to win two iPods (the new video versions) and two $50 gas cards just for attending. For more information on Jumpstart, visit lpssonline.com or call its hotline at 521-7102. ' Nathan Stubbs
EVERYBODY LOVES ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Everyone's campaigning on economic development these days, no matter what the office. When Mitch Landrieu ran for lieutenant governor and won, he proclaimed his agency would take on more of an economic development role, despite the department's core mission of tourism, marketing and state parks. And of course, Gov. Kathleen Blanco had campaigned on the notion of doing the same with her gig. Now it appears the secretary of state post is swinging the same way, if you believe the campaign trail rhetoric. State Sen. Francis Heitmeier, a New Orleans Democrat, says if elected he would use the office to create jobs and rebuild the state economy ' but nothing more specific. He says the SOS can "make it easier to do business in our state," since it already handles a great deal of business filings. (The office also oversees elections and the State Archives.) Republican state Sen. Jay Dardenne of Baton Rouge posts the same on his Web site: "Every statewide official should be engaged in leading Louisiana's efforts to attract business and industry to our stateâ?¦" Not to be left out, former state GOP chairman Mike Francis is touting the same, even promising to serve as an international recruiter for new businesses. ' JA
A POLITICAL GHOST
Former Louisiana Congressman Billy Tauzin might be retired from public office and already on to greener pastures as president of a major pharmaceutical lobby, but his congressional committee continues to linger around like some political ghost. According to second quarter financial statements, the committee account has $156,000 in the bank. In its heyday, Tauzin's committee pulled down hefty contributions from PACS and oil corporations to power brokers and conglomerates.
Donations are considerably down, almost to nothing, but the congressional committee still has enough money to cut checks. Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon received $2,000 from the Tauzin fund in May. A gaggle of other congressional candidates received $1,000 donations as well, including GOP Congresswoman Mary Bono of California. Tauzin, a Republican who chaired the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, gave up his congressional seat in 2004. He now heads up Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. ' JA
The fight to clean up Lafayette Parish could get some added ammunition with two ordinances up for votes Tuesday by the City-Parish Council targeting litter-bugs.
By striking a deal to lessen the blow of health insurance changes on state workers, school employees and retirees, Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration lowered the volume of criticism but gave itself and local school boards a new budget headache.
With the airport tax coming up for a parishwide vote in about a week, the Broussard City Council and its mayor have come out in support of the proposal.
Protesters rallied peacefully in several Louisiana cities in the wake of the Missouri grand jury decision not to indict a police officer in the fatal shooting of Michal Brown.
US cities bidding on Olympics; Guard prevents more Ferguson riots; storm threatens travel and more national and international news for Wednesday, November 26, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
The U.S. rep billed LSU for work allegedly performed on the same days Congress voted on major legislation and held important committee hearings on energy and the ACA.
Abysmally low participation by the public has prompted the council to scuttle the 2014 survey with plans to simplify it and try again next year.
The village now says the ordinance will likely be overturned and authorities will more vigorously enforce existing leash laws.
Bill Cassidy cast an early ballot Tuesday, seeking to draw renewed attention to a race that has fallen off newspaper front pages and away from people's minds as they plan holiday meals and shopping schedules.
Battered all night by Baltimore's relentless pass rush, Drew Brees could feel his protection collapsing and Terrell Suggs getting ahold of him as he urgently unloaded a pass to the right flat toward tight end Jimmy Graham.
After a convincing defeat at the polls on Nov. 4, Earl “Nickey” Picard has decided to let bygones be bygones with his former right-hand man Brian Pope, announcing his support for his former employee’s runoff bid to become Lafayette’s next city marshal.
Saturday the athletic department did everything possible to ensure the 2014 Ragin’ Cajun seniors remembered fondly their last home game. Rain and lightning never arrived but turbulence did in the form of the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
Even stranger than the Republican Party’s decision to hold a “unity rally” earlier this month for Congressman Bill Cassidy in a Baton Rouge bar, Huey’s Bar, was the fact that the establishment was named after Louisiana’s most famous Democrat.
Bar Code is not a gay bar.
After failing to pass a medical marijuana bill last year, state Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, is telling supporters he will return in 2015 with legislation that focuses on different applications like oils and pills.
Voters, obviously, are not yet tuned into the 2015 ballot, despite the intriguing races it will host.
By now, the story of how longtime LSU coach Dale Brown discovered Shaquille O'Neal has been told many times: Brown happened upon a massive 13-year-old at an army base in Germany, stayed in touch with him and eventually became like a second father.
Fate simply wasn't ready to give the New Orleans Saints a break from longtime nemesis Steve Smith.
Lafayette Police have had a busy day.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration will use $130 million in patchwork financing from a tax amnesty program, insurance settlement, uninsured motorist penalties and other excess funds to close most of the state's midyear budget deficit.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu said she disagrees with President Barack Obama's actions on immigration, hoping the latest controversy doesn't worsen her campaign difficulties.
Gay-rights advocates challenging Louisiana's same-sex marriage ban announced Thursday that they have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review their case before it is heard by a federal appeals court.
Thinking himself the “son of God,” the man charged with the 2013 killing of an officer of the Chitimacha Tribal Police will not stand trial following a ruling Thursday on his mental competency.
Either Saints coach Sean Payton doesn't want to tip Baltimore off as to who'll start in New Orleans' secondary on Monday night, or he really doesn't know yet.