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
Corporations spending in state elections; Kenny G and Hong Kong; states resist gay marriage and more national and international news for Thursday, October 23, 2014.
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.
Even though it had been rumored for months, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu finally pulled the trigger recently on a major campaign shakeup that moved control over to a few Big Easy insiders.
Louisiana's health department says it will seek law changes to stop billing sexual assault victims for exams and tests.
It wasn’t the historic slashes to higher ed funding or the ensuing tuition spikes that recently had LSU’s student body and faculty riled up in collective outrage.
Will $400 be enough for the re-election campaign of LPSB's Hunter Beasley to overcome two years of holding our school system hostage and hurting the education of our children all because of a personal dislike of the superintendent?
Saints tight end Jimmy Graham said Friday he expects his playing status in Detroit to be decided by coach Sean Payton on Sunday, shortly before the game.
Lawmakers have sidestepped a decision on whether they accept claims from Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration that the state closed last year's books with a nearly $179 million surplus.
Coming off the high of a fourth quarter comeback against Tampa Bay and a helpful bye week, linebacker Junior Galette sees a real turnaround coming for New Orleans' struggling defense.