Tuesday, July 2, 2013
A former member of the St. Landry Parish School Board has pleaded guilty to plotting to take a bribe to support a candidate for superintendent of the school district. John Miller faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine following his guilty plea yesterday in U.S. District Court to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery. Federal prosecutors say the 72-year-old Opelousas resident and another board member each accepted $5,000 bribes last year from a man who was serving as the district's acting superintendent and was one of five applicants for the position. FBI agents taped the September 2012 meeting and confronted the two board members before they could vote. Miller resigned from the board on Friday. A date for his sentencing wasn't immediately set.
The city of Westlake is an estimated $406,000 in the red for its fiscal year ended Sunday. Director of Finance Jimmy Ashworth tells the American Press the projected deficit is in the general fund, and the latest estimate is from March and could "very easily have changed." The budget for the fiscal year that started yesterday was approved by the city council last month. Ashworth said the city budgeted $5.4 million in its general fund for the 2013-2014 fiscal year, which is balanced at zero. He said the reason for there being a deficit one year and the budget being balanced the next could depend on the number of projects the city has and the equipment the city needs to purchase.
The Lafayette Consolidated Council is considering a proposal to convert half of St. Mary Boulevard into bike lanes for about four-fifths of a mile through the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. The proposal to be introduced today would convert two of the highway's four lanes from Taft Street, near the university foundation offices, to St. Landry Street, near Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center. It's part of a master plan approved by both the UL Lafayette Campus Planning Committee and the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors. At today's meeting, the council will introduce an ordinance to create a joint cooperative endeavor agreement with the university for striping, signs and related improvements on the stretch. Typically, ordinances are up for final approval two weeks after introduction.
The Rapides Parish School Board will consider recommendations for a variety of improvements at schools when it meets today. The Town Talk reports the proposals include new fencing, sidewalks and parking lots. A board committee sent three projects at Bolton High School to the full board, including about $65,000 to replace fencing around the school and $10,000 to replace sidewalks. The board also will consider replacing the driveway and a back area of the parking lot at Hadnot-Hayes S.T.E.M. Elementary, an area which board member John Allen called "terrible, awful, pathetic."
WE WOULD LIKE TO SEND OUR CONDOLENCES TO THE FAMILY AND PEOPLE OF JEANERETTE ON THE PASSING OF Mayor Tim DeClouet, 64. HE PASSED AWAY YESTERDAY after a brief bout with pneumonia.
THE LAFAYETTE PARISH SHERIFF’S OFFICE REACHED A SETTLEMENT IN A WRONGFUL DEATH LAW SUIT, JULIE DARCY WITH TV 10 HAS THE DETAILS.
The Village of Maurice has seen significant growth over the past few years, adding hundreds to their population, new businesses opening and the expansion of their city limits. But according to Mayor Wayne Theriot there's just one thing missing, a town center, but that's about to change. Mayor Theriot announced the development of what's being called The Maurice Village Center. It will be located in the heart of Maurice and be home to several boutiques and a café. Mayor Theriot says he hopes this new mall area will help create a centralized location for people to meet and hang out. Theriot says right now Maurice doesn't have a true downtown area and this will help bring one to the area. Construction on Maurice Village Center should begin soon and be completed by next spring.
Be prepared for delays at the Lafayette Parish Courthouse. A project to upgrade two elevators is underway. Plus, LCG plans to remove asbestos on floors six and seven. Consolidated President Joey Durel says the parish courthouse was built almost 50 years ago. Durel explains why age and wear and tear are not the only problems. "They weren't set up to keep criminals separated from the people who they have caused the crime against. Our judges who are handling cases having both parties in the same elevator isn't a safe situation," says Durel.The 6th and 7th floors has space that's unusable and asbestos needs to be removed. Exposure to it can be hazardous. "They abate hospitals and keep hospitals going. There's just a lot of precautions. It's not inexpensive, but there are a lot of things that have to be done to prevent it from getting into the duct work and that sort of thing. It's all taken into consideration with the pricing," adds Durel. LCG Project Coordinator Kay Richard says be prepared for delays. The two elevators are being upgraded at the same time. A decision that couldn't be avoided. "Both elevators are in the same shaft. For safety reasons you have to do both at the same time. You can't have people work on top of the one elevator when the other is in motion," explains Richard. Richard backs up what Durel stated. The asbestos abatement will be contained. The 7th floor at one time was a jail. What was left behind will be removed. "It's historical, however we need the space. So we're having to take everything out as a part of this project. Shell it out so people can use it again," adds Richard.LCG plans to start taking bids for the asbestos project this week. The elevator project is expected to be completed in September.
Confusion about prayer in public schools just got clearer. Governor Bobby Jindal signed into law House Bill 724. House Bill 724 basically permits public school students to gather for prayer; but that gathering has to be authorized. Prayer outside instructional time is fine and permitted before and after school.
State Representative Katrina Jackson authored House Bill 724. Jackson says she wanted to define what can and cannot take place in terms of prayer at schools. That clarification goes for teachers, parents and the community taking part on school grounds."
"You know how sometimes you get to work early and you hadn't clocked in yet whether or not those teachers who were asked to come and volunteer and lead prayer could or could not. So, the bill does that as well," Rep Katrina Jackson.
Eric Treuil the director of UL-Lafayette's Chi Alpha - a Christian fellowship, understands the challenges students face. "There have been issues where students invited a pastor and the school had said no," says Treuil.
Treuil believes it's a shame that a bill had to be drafted. He says freedom of religion is a constitutional right that has been eroding. "Today and through different entities that have been pulling those rights back. This House Bill helps to solidify that," says Treuil.
"It just clears the deck to make sure that everyone across the board understands that Christian students can gather," adds Treuil.
"School systems and others were confused on what students could and could not do," explains