The latest oak under fire is an approximately 150-year-old live oak in the way of a new roundabout in Youngsville. While several groups, including Trees Acadiana and the Sierra Club, have been working to save the venerable tree from the ax, the realignment of the intersection of Hwys. 92 and 89, currently a dog leg that involves several stop signs as vehicles weave their way through the heart of old Youngsville, will definitely aid traffic flow in the growing community.
Carmer Falgout, a Lafayette social worker, has led the charge to preserve the tree. “I don’t think people really see the oaks, they just take them for granted,” she says. Until they are cut down. Falgout had the experience of watching a 100-year-old tree removed by Tri-Parish Bank on South College, a tree she daily looked at out the window of her office for years. The experienced turned her into an activist, “It made me sick,” she says, and she began working with other groups to influence governments and individuals to revisit building plans to take the native urban forest into account, especially when old live oaks are involved.
There have been some egregious incidents over the past decade, when trees were destroyed unnecessarily. The Four Corners Oak comes to mind, a mighty oak that once shaded Toby’s Little Lodge at the intersection of North University and Cameron. Advanced Auto Parts, which built on the lot, chainsawed the tree in the middle of the night because there was so much opposition to its removal. The company later planted three young live oaks in the vicinity of the Four Corners Oak. There was no reason for the destruction of the oak, and it will be a century before those saplings come into their own.
UL has recently cut several live oaks, some 50-100 years old, as part of the master plan to build new dorms on campus. Student outcry (see the Ind’s story Paving Paradise) led to some redesign on the part of the administration and architects, which will potentially save three of the six condemned trees.
In the case of the Youngsville tree, which is not a named registered member of the Live Oak Society, the highway project has been on the books for eight years. It’s a two-fold state highway project, to realign La. 92 to cleanly intersect La. 89 at a new traffic roundabout. Youngsville Mayor Wilson Viator says he and the council have been trying to save the tree, “its an asset to the town,” but they haven’t been able to figure out how.
Youngsville has been booming of late, with the development of Sugar Mill Pond and other subdivisions, as well as the completion of Ambassador Caffery South. The road in particular obviates the need to wind through the country and gives motorists a straight shot from Lafayette’s south side to access Bonin Road and the Youngsville Highway, (La. 89), both roads that lead into Youngsville. With the easy access comes more development, and commerce, says Youngsville Chief Economic Officer Rick Garner, is a priority.
“We’re not in the tree killing business but we have to do what is best for Youngsville in the long run,” says Garner. “We’re losing a beautiful tree, but the economics of the city are going to be enhanced greatly. Commerce is going to be greater. It doesn’t matter how many businesses you open, if you can’t get people in your driveway, you haven’t done much. These traffic problems have to get resolved so that customers can get to these merchants.”
The Youngsville council met last night, and agreed that if the environmental organizations can raise the money, they will allow the tree to be moved to safety. “I feel we’ve done everything to date to save the tree, and we haven’t figured it out,” says Viator. While the contracts for the road work have been let, and Viator plans to accept the low bid, he has 45 days before he has to issue an order to proceed. “We’ll work with the groups to try to move the tree, if they can come up with the money,” he says. “We’re going to put in a nice roundabout, with landscaping. If we could keep the tree, it would be a big asset. This is where the city originated. We just haven’t come up with an idea of how to save it.”
JUNE 17 If anyone ever wonders why Saints fans hate Atlanta with a capital H, here's a good indication. Radio "professionals" at an Atlanta station created an entire segment around making fun of former Saints player Steve Gleason, who is now paralyzed by ALS. Listen, nobody's ever accused DJs of being rocket scientists. But how could someone think it is amusing to pretend to ask a man with a degenerative, fatal disease if he will be alive next week? The DJs have been fired, and are now whining about how gutless their former bosses are. Wow.
JUNE 18 Here's the latest from the Advocate on the fatal hit-and-run accident allegedly involving the president of the Livingston Parish School Board. He's accused by police of hitting a 21-year-old man on a highway early Sunday and driving away. The man died at a hospital later. On Monday, police seized the president's truck and towed it away. But he's available for board meetings: apparently a $500 bond is sufficient for this type of thing over in St. Helena Parish.
JUNE 18 Former broadcast journalist Griffin Scott has posted this plea on his blog for financial assistance from his readers. Scott, who says he was fired after he wrote something fairly innocuous (for Facebook) on his wall, is suing a media giant for his job back. He's framed himself as David going after a bloated media giant, and he's probably not far off.
JUNE 18 Here's a fairly absurd column posted on DIG Magazine about the completely absurd practice of naming killer storms. Tornadoes don't have names. Blizzards don't have names. But hurricanes do, and there's a big process to bestow them, Jacques Cormery writes. He's right about the crazy assemblage of names -- this year, there's everything from Tanya to Humberto -- and his idea that we don't waste good names on killer storms is a good one.
JUNE 17 Political columnist John Maginnis has some advice for Louisiana Republicans: grow up. After the schism that occurred in this past session - fiscal hawks teaming up with Democrats to spank the Republican "majority" and hand Gov. Jindal his, er, aspirations for continued solon control -- they need to figure out how to get along with each other, Maginnis writes.
JUNE 17 Here's the Picayune's obit story for Dorothy 'Miss Dot' Domilise, the lady who made poboys at the uptown restaurant that bears her name. Miss Dot moved to New Orleans during World War II, where she met and married her husband Sam. When she passed away Friday she was 90, and had spent more than 60 of those years working at the restaurant on Annunciation Street.
JUNE 17 This editorial in the Advocate speaks in favor of the consent decrees that have federal judges overseeing police operations and the sheriff's parish prison in New Orleans. Mayor Landrieu and Sheriff Gusman can't get along, so outside forces, like the Inspector General and the judges, are needed to make sure things run right, the editorial opines.
JUNE 18 Here's a post from Manny Schewitz on Forward Progressives that is good for a chuckle. Manny had an epiphany back in November, and is sharing it with us today: he believes that Fox "News" is killing the GOP by pandering to right wing nuts. Now, don't get it twisted: Manny's not broke up about it. He says he enjoys watching the downward spiral with a shot of whiskey and "a schadenfreude chaser."
Frank’s Casing Crew, now doing business as Frank’s International, will make its final appearance on ABiz’s list of the Top 50 Privately Held Companies in Acadiana this year, and once again, it will likely be at the top with more than $1 billion in annual revenues. The 75-year-old company specializing in tubular fabrication and installation services to the oil and gas industry plans to go public this year.
The defeat, or rather highjacking of House Bill 420 in the final days of this year's Legislative Session, say Reps. Vincent Pierre and Terry Landry, is the result of the propaganda spread by one unidentified local media outlet and an unnamed former state Representative, but nothing to do with the original legislation's lack of checks, balances or details.
He’s a singer. A songwriter. A piano man. A family man. He’s even got his own Wikipedia entry. He’s David Egan. And he knows ancient secrets about the monolithic stones of Stonehenge that he’s not willing to share.