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Lafayette school board approves security presence

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - A school resource officer is expected to become a regular attendee at Lafayette Parish School Board meetings.

The board approved a new policy giving its president the authority to request police security at meetings. Board President Hunter Beasley has expressed that the officer will likely attend almost all regular board meetings. The estimated cost is $5,500, although it may be lower if the board meets less frequently or meetings are shorter.

The Advertiser reports the board approved the new policy with an 8-0 vote.

Also on Wednesday, the board received an update about a new program at Northside High School for pregnant teens and new mothers. The program is designed to let teenage mothers finish their education, while providing child care for their infants and toddlers.


Land acquired for Comite River canal project

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - A 66-acre tract along U.S. 61 has been acquired for the long-awaited Comite (KOH'-meet) River Diversion Canal project.

The Amite River Basin Commission, which was set up to maintain and operate the canal, bought the land from three property owners for nearly $1.45 million in a deal that was filed Wednesday with the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court's Office.

Larry Bankston, an attorney for the commission, tells The Advocate the land is across from the Lilly Bayou Control Structure, between Baker and Zachary.

The Comite River Diversion Canal project will lower flooding risks in the Comite River Basin by diverting floodwater from the Amite and Comite rivers to the Mississippi River. The project has been under discussion since the early 1990s.


Breaux Bridge man arrested in January slaying

BREAUX BRIDGE, La. (AP) - St. Martin Parish sheriff's detectives have arrested a Breaux Bridge man in the death of an Iberville Parish man.

The Advocate reports 44-year-old Mark A. Roy was arrested without incident Tuesday at his home.

Sheriff's Maj. Ginny Higgins says Roy was arrested in the death of 42-year-old Avery Hastings, an employee of an environmental company that was doing work at a Plaquemine chemical plant in January.

Iberville authorities were investigating the theft of an excavator at the plant in Plaquemine. During the investigation they discovered Avery's body in a sugar cane field in Rosedale, a few miles north of Plaquemine.

Roy was booked on one count of second-degree murder and principal to felony theft.

It was unclear whether Roy has an attorney.


La.'s Jindal to deliver commencement at Liberty

LYNCHBURG, Va. (AP) - Another early Republican presidential prospect is heading to Liberty University.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will deliver the keynote commencement address May 10 at the Virginia university founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell. The Lynchburg school announced his appearance on Wednesday.

Earlier this month, another possible Republican presidential hopeful, Ted Cruz, spoke at Liberty. The Texan is a tea party favorite.

An appearance at Liberty University has become a familiar stop along the early presidential campaign trail, similar to states like Iowa and New Hampshire where voters and party activists get the first shot at winnowing the field of Republican and Democratic candidates.


Early voting begins Saturday for jail tax

THIBODEAUX, La. (AP) - Early voting will begin Saturday on a proposal that would add a sales tax for the construction of a $30 million jail in Lafourche Parish.

Registered voters have a week to cast their ballots in advance of the May 3 election on a 0.2 percent, 30-year sales tax to build a 600-bed detention center.

Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre tells The Courier the existing jail is dangerous for not only the inmates but the correctional officers who work there.

The existing jail, built in 1968 and expanded in 1977, is in poor condition and suffers from chronic overcrowding. One consultant said it is in the worst condition of any jail he's seen, and Webre has called it the least efficient design he's ever seen.


Board to demolish historic Cohn High School

PORT ALLEN, La. (AP) - The West Baton Rouge Parish School Board has taken steps toward demolishing the old Cohn High School campus, authorizing school district officials to begin the bidding process to tear down the historic buildings.

The Advocate reports the board's action comes after years of complaints that the campus, closed for several decades, had become an eyesore and likely a setting for illegal activity.

Cohn High, built in 1949 in Port Allen, was the city's first black K-12 public school during the days of segregation.

Members of the Cohn High Alumni Association attended the school board meeting Wednesday night in a show of support for the demolition. The group also urged the school board to keep them in the loop on any future plans for the site.


St. James puts youth center on market for $2.5M

VACHERIE, La. (AP) - The St. James Parish Youth Detention Center is on the market for $2.5 million following a vote by the Parish Council to declare it surplus property.

The center closed June 30 because of new state regulations that would have driven up the cost to maintain the facility. Youth offenders were sent to a detention center in Assumption Parish.

Parish officials considered turning the facility into a prisoner work-release program hub, a nursing home or a minimum security prison.

However, the detention center still sits empty.

Parish President Timmy Roussel tells The Advocate Wednesday there have been two recent inquiries into the youth center site.


2 bodies found in burning car hear Maurice

MAURICE, La. (AP) - Authorities say Vermilion Parish firefighters who put out a vehicle fire near Maurice discovered two bodies inside.

Sheriff Mike Couvillon said in a news release received by The Advocate deputies responded to the fire about 1 a.m. Wednesday south of Maurice.

Couvillon said detectives are working with the Acadiana Crime Lab, the Louisiana Fire Marshal's Office and State Police to process the evidence.

Couvillon did not release the identities of the victims, or say if they had been identified.

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