The Youngsville City Council voted Thursday to allow the so-called Heritage Oak — a 250-year-old live oak in the way of “progress” — to stand, accepting a generous offer from resident Ginger Rabalais to use her property for a temporary bypass road that will allow crews to straighten La. 92 leading into town. The bypass will come within five feet of Rabalais’ front door.
The oak, which stands in Councilman A.J. Bernard’s yard, was slated to be felled later this month to make way for the bypass. When news of the tree’s impending demise spread, a consortium of tree lovers organized a campaign to save the tree, including Acadiana artist George Rodrigue, who painted the tree in his iconic style and sold prints to raise money for relocation of the tree. The relocation proved to be unnecessary, thanks in large part to Rabalais.
“This is an important part of our city’s history,” Rabalais told The Daily Advertiser after the council’s vote Thursday night. “It deserves to be saved.”
Trees Acadiana agreed at the Thursday meeting to provide a $200,000 surety bond, which will be used to restore Rabalais’ property after the five-month, $5 million construction project is complete.
Trees Acadiana’s Sarah Schoeffler announced the victory in an email to supporters: “We have felt the issue of the Youngsville Oak has been more than just one tree, that our public officials, engineers, developers, etc. will take into consideration the beauty our oaks have graced our land with for hundreds of years. They were here to welcome all of us into South Louisiana. These wonderful trees have cleaned our air, held our land firm and homes protected during storms, they slow down flood run off, provide the cooling effects from the shade, habitat for birds and squirrels and provide a place of solace for mankind. We hope our leaders will learn creative ways to design around them.”
Trees Acadiana and Guardian of the Oaks, an offshoot group that sprang up specifically in defense of the Youngsville Heritage Oak, are urging supporters to continue to donate and purchase the Rodrigue print to help the groups pay back loans taken out to cover the cost of the surety bond.
And hopefully, as Youngsville residents rumble within feet of Ginger Rabalais’ door on the temporary bypass, they’ll give her a big thumbs up. Bravo, Ginger!
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.