LAFAYETTE — The Lafayette branch of Fugro GeoServices may be tapped to lend its expertise in the search for the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, the company announced Tuesday.

The local sea floor mapping company could send employees along with equipment to assist the Australian-led search operation.

Fugro’s Equator, an advanced survey ship with deep-water location equipment deployed from Fugro’s corporate headquarters in the Netherlands, is currently involved with the search, according to the company.

The vessel will take three months to complete its mapping of the relatively uncharted section of the ocean floor, some parts of which can be 20,000 feet deep.

Published in Baton Rouge News

The Jindal administration has repaid a $70 million state treasury loan that was needed to keep public colleges and universities operating.

However, state Treasurer John Kennedy raised concerns Tuesday about where the administration found the money to repay the borrowing. He said the administration grabbed dollars from another fiscal year. Kennedy also said the 2013-2014 fiscal year ended this week with a nearly $63 million deficit.

“They’re using 2015 money to pay expenses for 2014. That leaves a hole in 2015 which causes me to have to loan them more money to fill the hole.

Published in Baton Rouge News
BESE’s Lee faces ethics charges
Tuesday, 01 July 2014 15:37

Indicted state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education member Walter Lee is now facing state ethics charges.

The state Board of Ethics alleged in documents made public Tuesday that Lee violated three state conflict of interest laws. The charges involve incidents of Lee’s alleged use of his position as DeSoto Parish schools superintendent for personal gain.

Lee was indicted in January by a DeSoto Parish grand jury on felony theft, public contract fraud and malfeasance in office during his tenure as schools chief.

Published in Baton Rouge News

Shares of Investar Holding, the parent company of Investar Bank, launched Tuesday at $14 per share and quickly spiked to $14.53 per share before settling lower and closing at $14.20.

Close to 787,000 shares shares changed hands.

The company originally announced plans to offer 2.9 million shares at $15 to $17. At that price, Investar Holding’s market value would have been between $43.1 million and $48.9 million. At $14 per share, the company’s market value is $40.3 million.

Published in Baton Rouge News
Iberville Chamber relocates offices
Tuesday, 01 July 2014 15:37

The Iberville Chamber of Commerce has moved its office to 23520 Eden St. in Plaquemine.

Executive Director Hank Grace said the refurbished 2,500-square-foot building has a more modern design that allows for better technology to make the chamber’s operations more efficient. The building has a larger meeting room, which is open to members’ use.

The chamber has about 275 members.

The building, which is under a long-term lease, also is on a main roadway that gives the chamber more visibility, Grace said.

Published in Baton Rouge News

BAGHDAD (AP) — BAGHDAD — The leader of the extremist group that seized much of northern Iraq and Syria called on Muslims worldwide on Tuesday to join the battle and help build an Islamic state in the newly conquered territory.

The 19-minute audiotape from Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi came two days after his organization, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, unilaterally declared the establishment of an Islamic state, or caliphate, in the land it controls.

Published in Baton Rouge News

SHALIMAR, Fla. (AP) — A 350-pound black bear found sleeping in a Florida Panhandle tree has been euthanized.

The bear had been caught, tagged and removed from the same area twice since April but kept finding his way back to the neighborhood near Panama City.

A spokesman for Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission told the Northwest Florida Daily News (http://bit.ly/1xc7TSC ) that the bear was euthanized because he created a risk of causing traffic accidents and other problems in the busy area.

Published in Baton Rouge News

A special meeting of Louisiana’s top school board is drawing a packed auditorium Tuesday.

The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is set to debate its next step in the fight over Common Core. But the meeting may last hours in hearing public testimony.

Dozens of backers of the new standards sounded off 30 minutes before the gathering was set to start. Meanwhile, longtime opponents were prepared to testify.

The meeting stems from Gov. Bobby Jindal’s order on June 18 for the state to drop the exams that go with Common Core.

Published in Baton Rouge News

WASHINGTON (AP) — Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden, is on a tour of three African countries, where she will highlight female empowerment, education and leadership.

Biden arrives in Lusaka, Zambia on Tuesday. She is expected to be accompanied there by Rajiv Shah, director of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Stops also are planned in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone. Biden returns to Washington next week.

Administration officials say the trip is a chance for Biden, a lifelong teacher, to highlight what happens when women and girls are empowered through education and entrepreneurship.

Published in Baton Rouge News

Updated at

11:34 a.m.

A scheduled three-day trial in Port Allen Chief Financial Officer Audrey McCain’s suit against former Mayor Demetric “Deedy” Slaughter was cut short after opening arguments Tuesday before Judge Alvin Batiste.

Batiste dismissed many of McCain’s claims against mayor and asked her lawyers to amend some of their legal filings. Attorney J. Arthur Smith, who is representing the city in the case, said the matter has been been reset for a trial in September in 18th Judicial District Court.

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