THE BIG STORY
Shaw sale aftershocks debated
The July 30 announcement that The Shaw Group is being acquired for $3.04 billion by CB&I, a Netherlands company with U.S. operations in The Woodlands, Texas, came as a surprise to employees, state economic development officials and even analysts who closely follow the local, 30-year-old company. More...
LSU hospitals buy time
LSU Health Care Services officials have concocted a stopgap plan to attract enough federal matching dollars to deal with Medicaid cuts without closing any public hospitals. But there's still work to do. More...
The Ameritas vision
When Ameritas Technologies opens in October in the Chase Building in downtown Baton Rouge, it isn't only delivering 300 new jobs to Baton Rouge. It's also part of a much larger vision to counter the offshore outsourcing of American technology jobs. More...
Battles over vouchers heat up
Louisiana's statewide student-voucher program can roll out as scheduled, a state appeals court in Baton Rouge said July 25. But the legal battle over the constitutionality of the program is far from over. More...
DPW's new dance
When the East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council is upset with Mayor Kip Holden, it's often been Holden's chief administrator, John Carpenter, in the line of fire. But from now on, the Metro Council won't have Carpenter to kick around anymore. More...
East Baton Rouge Assessor Brian Wilson is sending out notices of property reassessments the week of Aug. 13, but homeowners will also have the opportunity to go online and inspect their assessments at ebrpa.org. It's unclear how soon this year's reassessments will be posted to the website, but they will be available on a permanent basis. More...
Let's do lunch
You have to eat, and you'd rather eat well. So how do you do it? Grab An Economist Gets Lunch by Tyler Cowen for some lessons. More...
Adult Literacy Advocates
MISSION To provide a variety of educational programs to help adults in the Greater Baton Rouge community achieve personal, employment and family goals by improving their literacy skills.
RULING YEAR 1969
TOTAL ASSETS $65,804
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Gary Robertson
Raedtha (Rae) Vasquez
Janice (Irving) Wise
Interim director, YWCA Baton Rouge
Hometown: Fort Worth
Judi Bishop was hired as interim CEO of YWCA Baton Rouge after more than 25 years with the YWCA and after almost 10 years as co-owner of a design and public relations company. From 1989 to 2009, she was the executive director of YWCA Fort Worth before retiring. Before her arrival in Baton Rouge, Bishop was the interim executive director of the YWCA Northwest Louisiana. In her free time, Bishop enjoys relaxing with her family and the occasional trip to the thrift store to hunt for a good deal.
When I was hired as executive director of the YWCA Fort Worth & Tarrant County in 1989, I was asked to assess the organization and determine if it should be dissolved or if it could become a viable nonprofit in Tarrant County. When I retired in 2009, the agency had a $3.2 million annual budget, a $4 million endowment, quality programs with extraordinary impact on clients served and an exceptional and highly skilled staff of nearly 100. We ran a successful capital campaign and restored a significant six-story, historic-landmark building in downtown Fort Worth. We renovated a satellite facility in the city, and purchased a new facility in a suburb of Fort Worth. It was wonderful to be a part of this amazing journey.
Although Baton Rouge is unique in history and culture, the pressing issues are the same from city to city. Poverty, challenges in the public school system, school dropout rate, teen pregnancy, low literacy, institutional racism and lack of wage parity are issues in most cities. I learned a great deal as executive director of YWCA in Fort Worth & Tarrant County.
We have constantly changed to meet the needs of the Greater Baton Rouge area and provide relevant, quality services. We tackle the tough issues like HIV/AIDS, women's health, adult literacy and racism. This is your YWCA and a vital part of the social service fabric of Greater Baton Rouge. We need you as a volunteer and/or supporter.
I have definitely flunked retirement. As long as I am working for the greater good, whether paid or as a volunteer, it is meaningful and gives me personal fulfillment.
Click here to read the complete Q&A with Bishop.
ON THE BEAT
Yellow Jacket, the Baton Rouge invention that wraps a stun gun around iPhones as a protective case, garnered national attention last week as it reached 1,000 presale orders before an online purchasing campaign ended. Yellow Jacket will debut for full retail sale in October at $125 or more, but the local company (of the same name) behind its creation offered the limited presale of the case for $100 per unit on the crowd-source fundraising website indiegogo.com. Company co-founder Sean Simone says the success of Yellow Jacket's fundraising effort is reflected in its ranking in the top 10 of roughly 15,000 startups featured on indie-gogo's website. Simone and inventor Seth Froom, both Baton Rouge residents, completed their first prototype in April, working at the Louisiana Business & Technology Center. Their unique product has already caught the attention of national and international media, including CNN, The Huffington Post, Forbes and The Guardian. The case is capable of delivering a 650,000-volt charge to thwart would-be attackers and serves as an extra battery to deliver a full charge to iPhones.
Local business executive Milton Graugnard is suing CATS over the 10.6-mill property tax that was passed in April by voters in a specially crafted taxing district. “It's a case about fairness, taxation and the Constitution,” Graugnard says. “Nothing is more important than our basic constitutional rights. No bus system or government service, however well intentioned, is worth violating that.” Graugnard declines to comment further except to say the petition speaks for itself. That petition in the 19th Judicial District is the first of what will likely be several lawsuits over the tax, and comes after months of controversy and criticism about the way the taxing district was created and the way the special election was held. The suit asks the court for a permanent injunction against the tax on the grounds that it is unconstitutional, noting that only voters residing within the city limits of Baton Rouge and Baker were able to vote on the tax, even though CATS service is not limited to the Baton Rouge and Baker municipal areas. (Zachary residents also voted on the tax and rejected it, and therefore were not at issue in this suit.)
A new vaccine
A vaccine made by University Products that protects cattle from anaplasmosis, a disease that destroys red blood cells, could go into production at a Louisiana laboratory within a year, says veterinary scientist Gene Luther of the LSU AgCenter. Currently no USDA-licensed biologic facility exists in Louisiana. The vaccine is now made in an LSU AgCenter laboratory. Luther and scientists Lewis Hart and William Todd developed the “killed vaccine,” which means it uses the dead organism to create immunity in cattle. University Products is less than a month away from completing the final test needed to start the licensing procedure. With the license and approved laboratory, the vaccine could be made available worldwide.
Next in line
LSU's presidential search committee has selected a Dallas-based firm to help recruit and do background checks on candidates, though it remains unclear if the committee will be looking for a system leader to also serve as chancellor of the flagship campus in Baton Rouge. The search committee—made up of members of the university's governing board, the Board of Supervisors—chose R. William Funk & Associates as its search firm. Committee Chairman Blake Chatelain says the company submitted a bid to do the work for $120,000, plus expenses. Chatelain acknowledges the search can't begin, however, until the Board of Supervisors determines if it will combine the system president job with the chancellor position. Both are vacant.
Chico Garcia, a former LSU cheerleader and the squad's current associate head coach who was paralyzed from the neck down in a boating accident last summer, will soon be able to take back control of most of his Baton Rouge home's appliances and features, thanks to emerging automation technology. More...
Old kid on the block
You've probably seen the McMahon House, even if you don't know it by name. The yellow two-story home has sat vacant in the heart of downtown for about 30 years, at 310 Convention St., behind the City Club of Baton Rouge. More...
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