Daily Report

This Afternoon's Headlines / Mon, August 05, 2013

Portico set to open second Baton Rouge location in Southdowns

It's been about a year since Monroe-based Portico opened its first Baton Rouge location on Coursey Boulevard, and its owners are now planning to open their second bar and grill in the city at the Southdowns Village Shopping Center. "We really like that area, and that's originally where we wanted to open when we came to Baton Rouge," says Stephen Walker, who founded Portico with Kenny O'Neil. "We feel like there's a whole different demographic of people there who will like what we have to offer." Portico will take over the space that was formerly home to Romacelli Bistro, which closed in February, and before that, Enoteca Marcello's Wine Bar & Caf. "We're going to be doing a little bit of remodeling to make the patio bigger, open up the bar side to the patio and do some other cosmetic changes just to open the space up," Walker says. "We're going to fast-track it." Walker says he hopes to have the bar and grill open by Halloween, but adds the roughly 3,500-square-foot space may not be ready until a few weeks after. It will be the fourth Portico location since the business was launched in Monroe in 2006. A second location opened in Ruston in 2009, and the former Calendar's at Sherwood Forest and Coursey boulevards was extensively renovated for the third. —Steve Sanoski

LSU trademarks a new Tigers logo for fan apparel

LSU has trademarked a new Tigers logo for men's and women's clothing that is beginning to show up around Baton Rouge. The small striped tiger, similar to a Polo horse, is intended to be a subtle "fashion mark" for those who may not want to wear the LSU letters emblazoned across their clothing, says Brian Hommel, director of LSU trademark licensing. So far, only five licensees have been approved to use the mark, including Cutter & Buck, Pennington & Bailes, Peter Millar, Southern Tide and Meesh & Mia. "The plan could evolve over time; we're just going to see how things proceed through the fall, and plot a course of action through that," Hommel says. He says the new logo is not an official logo and won't be seen on football helmets, uniforms or on television. Frank Polk, a salesman at Carriage's Fine Clothiers, says the shirts—which the store received about a month ago—have quickly become a top seller. "It's kind of popular," Polk says of the Peter Millar woven shirts his story carries. "It's probably a little bit ahead of the others." Earlier this year, LSU also sanctioned a new "Mike the Tiger" logo to be used on children's apparel. Check out both of the new logos. —April Castro

Education superintendent questions displacement of EBR students

In July, the Louisiana Department of Education objected to the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board's decision to close two low-scoring schools, Delmont Elementary and Mayfair Middle, and replace them at the same sites with a kindergarten/pre-K school and lab school, respectively. Asked about those changes today, Superintendent of Education John White focused less on plans for the new schools than on what will happen to students displaced by the moves. He said EBR assured him those students would be going to better-performing schools, but said he has yet to see the proof. "My recommendation to BESE as to what to do now will be based on: Did the parish stand by its promise?" said White. The department said in July that it wouldn't grant new site codes to the new schools, meaning the new schools could be saddled with the scores of the old ones—though White subsequently said he was open to considering "new information." Along with the criticism, White also praised the EBR system today, saying it had "knocked it out of the park" by raising the scores of a dozen formerly F-rated schools this year. In a presentation to the Baton Rouge Press Club today, White focused on his proposal to revamp career education and end the "caste system" of high school diplomas. White plans to issue a "policy blueprint" on the subject next month, followed by public meetings and potential legislation next year. —David Jacobs

Executive Spotlight: Sue Ferachi

Sue Ferachi learned how to achieve balance as a working mother, raising four children while helping to run Capitol City Produce. Her management style likewise led her to extend her understanding of who family is. At Capitol City Produce, which she and her husband acquired from her father-in-law in 1964, most longtime employees are viewed as family and treated as such, Ferachi says. In turn, she adds, Capitol City Produce strives to meet the community's needs, providing excellent fresh produce, much of it local, though still buying products from around the world. The company has been in business since 1947. Read the full Q&A with Ferachi. Here's a sample:
What is your greatest hope for Baton Rouge?
"That Baton Rouge will continue the revitalization of downtown and will lure new industries and companies to our area. In order to do this, we must improve our public school system and the traffic problems that impact our city."

Third annual Startup Weekend Baton Rouge events set

The third annual Startup Weekend Baton Rouge will kick off Friday, Aug. 16, with a 60-seconds-or-less pitch event. With the help of mentors and area entrepreneurs, teams will spend the rest of the weekend taking the most popular business ideas from concept to launch, with a presentation before judges to take place Sunday. Prizes worth more than $1,000 each, including co-working spaces and memberships to mentorship programs, will be awarded to the judges' favorites. About 100 area budding entrepreneurs and existing business owners are expected to participate in this year's event at the Louisiana Technology Park. A limited number of tickets for the public pitches on Friday and Sunday nights are also available. Get the details and register to participate or attend.

LSU RB Hill's probation extended, could play for LSU

A judge has extended LSU running back Jeremy Hill's probation, and now it's up to coach Les Miles whether the Tigers' suspended leading rusher from last season will return to the team. Hill was caught on video punching a man outside a bar last spring. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery—a violation of his probation from an earlier misdemeanor. During Monday's hearing, State District Judge Bonnie Jackson reviewed more restrictive terms she attached to Hill's first probation—including a curfew and bar ban—in May. Jackson sentenced Hill to 40 hours of community service on Monday and agreed to curfew flexibility when Hill needs to be out for football, including games and travel. Jackson had received a probation revocation motion from prosecutors. The Tigers began practice today and Miles had said he wouldn't address Hill's reinstatement until his legal status was clear. The judge admonished Hill for the "arrogance" he displayed on the video, particularly the way he could be seen laughing after throwing the punch. She told Hill that is why many people felt he should go to jail. Hill said he was "terribly sorry" and that he let his emotions get the best of him. He stressed that he is now focused on church, his family, hanging around the "right type of people" and helping others in his community avoid the mistakes he has made. Since his latest plea in July, Hill has been serving two overlapping two-year probation terms. The Associated Press has the full story.

'Business Report' planner: BRAC investor luncheon … Tech Tuesday … Annual oil and gas seminar in N.O.

Tuesday — Doug Bourgeois of the Louisiana Office of Tourism is guest speaker at the BRAC Monthly Investor Luncheon at the offices of Kean Miller on the seventh floor of II City Plaza, 400 Convention St. The event will begin with networking at 11:30 a.m., with lunch and program to begin at noon. Cost is $15 for BRAC investors, $20 for guests. Register to attend.

Aug. 13 — Tech Tuesday, a networking opportunity for the Capital Region tech community, takes place at Level Up Lab in the Louisiana Technology Park, 7117 Florida Blvd. from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. There is no cost. Register to attend.

Aug. 28-30 — The Louisiana Department of Natural Resources will host "Louisiana Oil & Gas: From SONRIS to Sunset," its annual education and training seminar, at the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans. Oil and gas operators, business and industry professionals, and guests are invited. Continuing education credit opportunities are available for some professions. Registration is $400. Get complete details and register.

For the full list of upcoming events, click here.

News roundup: Ground broken today on $1 billion project in Jefferson Parish … Relief well drilling starts after Gulf blowout … Jindal declares emergency around derailed train

Golden shovels: Gov. Bobby Jindal joined officials from Incitec Pivot Limited and Cornerstone Chemical at a ceremony in Jefferson Parish today to break ground on a $1.025 billion project that combines construction of Dyno Nobel's $850 million ammonia plant with Cornerstone Chemical's $175 million investment in upgrades and infrastructure expansion. Incitec Pivot, based in Australia, is the parent company of Dyno Nobel, which is building a plant with an annual ammonia capacity of 800,000 metric tons on the west bank of the Mississippi River. Dyno Nobel plans to begin ammonia production in mid-to-late 2016. Jindal's website has more details.

Bringing relief: Workers have started drilling a relief well to permanently seal a gas well that blew out in the Gulf last month off the coast of Louisiana, federal regulators announced today. The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement says the drilling began Sunday and is expected to take about 35 days to complete. Drilling mud and cement will be pumped into the well once the relief well intercepts it. The cause of the blowout remained under investigation today.

Getting back on track: Gov. Bobby Jindal has declared a state of emergency around the site of a derailed train that leaked a caustic chemical in St. Landry Parish. The Union Pacific train derailed Sunday afternoon near Lawtell, forcing the evacuation of about 100 homes. Lawtell is about 60 miles west of Baton Rouge. A company spokesperson says one railcar was leaking sodium hydroxide, which can cause injuries or even death if it's inhaled or touches the skin, and another was leaking lube oil. A man who was near the derailment is being treated for a burning sensation in his eyes. Jindal's declaration, issued today, extends through Sept. 2 unless terminated sooner.

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