News_Keith-StutesIs Stutes eyeing DA’s seat?

It’s hard to get an accurate read on Keith Stutes, the full-time assistant district attorney who retired Aug. 31 after a distinguished 28-year career.



News_Keith-StutesIs Stutes eyeing DA’s seat?

It’s hard to get an accurate read on Keith Stutes, the full-time assistant district attorney who retired Aug. 31 after a distinguished 28-year career. But whatever his reasons — when we broke the story of his retirement Aug. 28 we noted that the black eye on the DA’s office from the ongoing federal investigation into its handling of OWI cases was one factor driving his decision (Stutes even launched his own investigation) — his absence will be felt. As one of his colleagues who assisted in the Brandon Scott Lavergne prosecution says, Stutes is the type of consummate professional young ADAs should look to in developing their careers. Intellectually honest, diligent, organized, hard-working — those are the words of prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys alike in describing the man many of us know so little about. Despite handling and winning some of the most high-profile cases in the district, Keith Stutes, 60, is a very private person, but he would make one helluva candidate for District Attorney in 2014.

Whether giving up some of the privacy he’s enjoyed for much of his career is worth the reward of reversing the incompetent oversight (and possibly worse) of his current boss is a question only Stutes can answer. And he’s not saying much. One thing’s for sure, however: With someone like Stutes as DA, the feds would be spending their time on other matters, as there would be no shenanigans in the 15th Judicial District Attorney’s Office. — Leslie Turk

LUS steps up for Broussard

The top brass in Lafayette Consolidated Government and Lafayette Utilities System put aside their political grievances in late August when Hurricane Isaac began to antagonize the area with wind and rain and helped the city of Broussard out of a pinch.

Broussard’s water plant supervisor contacted LUS at about 5 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 29, to report that Broussard’s backup generator for its water plant had gone down; earlier that day, around 10 a.m., the Entergy power supply for the plant had malfunctioned and the city was relying on its back-up generator to keep water pressure up.

According to LUS Director Terry Huval, had Broussard’s water pressure fallen to a low-enough level, the city likely would have had to issue a boil advisory — if Broussard residents had any water at all. Broussard asked LUS for permission to open an inter-tie valve to release more LUS water into the Broussard system. LUS complied and sent an employee to supervise the opening of the valve. Entergy’s power supply to the plant was back up around 10:30 a.m. Thursday at which time LUS closed the valve off.

Broussard was back operating as it was prior to the storm, Huval said later that day. “We did step up to the plate to assist them; there was no question this is what we needed to do because this is because of public health.”

Broussard has a wholesale water contract with LUS and gets much of its own municipal water supply via LUS. But that wholesale agreement was jeopardized last year when it was discovered that Broussard had been bypassing an LUS meter and pumping additional — tens of thousands of gallons as a matter of fact — LUS water into Broussard for free. The discovery led to LUS hitting Broussard with a bill for more than $800,000, a bill Broussard ultimately paid but is disputing in court.

Coupled with lawsuits Broussard has filed against the city of Lafayette over annexations in south Lafayette Parish, the relationship between Broussard and LCG has been strained, to put it charitably. City-Parish President Joey Durel says when he was contacted Aug. 29 over the potential water crisis in Broussard, he didn’t think twice about helping. “Regardless of the perception of politics, we would never put people in any kind of harm’s way who we could help,” Durel says.

Surprisingly, not, Broussard Mayor Charlie Langlinais didn’t issue a press release thanking LUS for its help. But Broussard spokeswoman Amy Jones says officials there did reach out to LUS privately to thank the utility for its help.

Now can we all just sing “Kumbaya” already? — Walter Pierce

Imelda’s closes Parc Lafayette store

Less than a year after relocating from Ambassador Caffery Parkway near the Mall of Acadiana to Parc Lafayette at Kaliste Saloom Road and Camellia Boulevard, Imelda’s Fine Shoes has left the city. The Parc Lafayette store sold its last pair of pumps Aug. 31.

The store had been selling off its inventory at discounted prices since Aug. 1, says Manager Mari Roberts.

Imelda’s owner Sally Banta also has stores in Baton Rouge and Metairie — and a franchised location in Shreveport. Those stores are unaffected by the Lafayette closure, Roberts says.

The Baton Rouge-based chain expanded to Lafayette about 14 years ago; Banta’s recent move from Baton Rouge to Texas was part of the reason she closed the Lafayette store, according to Roberts. — LT

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