Council to consider another bus bench contract Wednesday
The Metro Council will reconsider granting National Concrete Industries—which until this year was the only company with a contract to provide bus benches in the city-parish, dating back to the 1970s—an eight-year contract to construct and maintain bus benches. And while Councilman Ryan Heck says that the language in the revised contract, which will be considered Wednesday, is more precise than in previous agreements, he questions whether awarding another contract for bus bench services is a smart move at this time. The council has already awarded two contracts since the summer. “I'm still hesitant myself to approve anymore bus bench contracts because of the debacle we're in right now,” Heck says, referring to the apparent race
between two new bus bench companies—Geaux Benches and Giraffe Advertising—to erect the most benches around the city. The revised language in the proposed contract with National Concrete Industries—which includes restrictions against alcohol, cigarette, and/or gaming advertisements—may be an improvement, but it won't fix existing agreements, Heck says. “I'd like to see the whole thing revisited with all the people who have licenses from us,” he says. “I think it'd be reasonable for those people to sit back down and rework the agreements, because what we have now is not good for anybody.” It's not clear, however, whether other council members will be as cautious about awarding a third contract. At the Oct. 23 meeting, when National Concrete Industries' contract was first considered, Councilmen John Delgado and Trae Welch expressed concern about not renewing the contract of a loyal, local company. The contract was deferred at that meeting. The city-parish's current contract with National Concrete Industries is set to expire at the end of the year. Wednesday's council meeting will begin at 4 p.m. on the third floor of City Hall, 222 St. Louis St. See the full agenda. —Rachel Alexander
St. George proponents propose six new schools in district
If successful in its incorporation effort, supporters of the city of St. George say they would build six new schools in addition to the 10 that the new district would inherit from the East Baton Rouge Parish School District. St. George proponents announced their proposal today, noting the new school district—called the St. George Independent School District—would be larger than the actual boundaries of the new city, which they say is allowed by state law. The proposed new high school, two middle schools and three elementary schools all would be located on the west side of Interstate 10. “Based on our research, we see no reason to raise taxes to build additional schools or to run this school district. This area currently pays 43.45 mils and a dedicated 2-cent sales tax,” reads the announcement. “The tax base in the proposed St. George Independent School District, recently verified by Dr. Jim Richardson, provides ample funds to build six new schools and run a school district.” See a map of the proposed school district.
The Committee to Incorporate the City of St. George is holding a public meeting from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Woodlawn Baptist Church, 5805 Jones Creek Road. Also today, the The Baton Rouge Association of Firefighters Local 557, which represents the Baton Rouge Fire Department, issued a statement opposing the incorporation of a new city. —Staff report
Executive Spotlight: Margot Hsu Carroll
Overseeing Auxiliary Services at LSU is rather like leading an orchestra, without the podium and baton, as Business Report
details in its new Executive Spotlight feature on LSU Auxiliary Services Executive Director Margot Hsu Carroll. From her office in the LSU Union, Carroll ensures that a diverse set of players act in concert to provide a repertoire of essential services for the university community. Carroll arrived at LSU in August to assume this position, having proven herself in an analogous post at the University of Delaware. Dining Services, the bookstore, Tiger Card Office, Child Care Center, vending, campus mail and printing, laundry services and copier management: All fall within her purview at LSU, as does the Union itself, which is still undergoing renovations. With seven directors reporting to her, Carroll describes her leadership style as collaborative: Team building is a priority. Read the full Q&A.
Here’s a sample:What was your first job?
“The summer after my first year of college I worked at the Delaware Department of Transportation. I also waited tables in the evenings at a local Mexican restaurant. I loved interacting with many different people.”
B.R. based homebuilder continues Carolinas expansion
Continuing its expansion along the East Coast, Baton Rouge-based homebuilder Level Homes announced today it is moving into South Carolina with the development of a 400-lot community in Charleston called Spring Grove Plantation. The announcement comes less than six weeks after Level—whose principal owner and investor is John Engquist—acquired from Commercial Properties the residential portion of its 400-acre traditional neighborhood development in Raleigh, N.C., called 5401 North. “We plan on being a large, regional builder,” says Ric Rojas, president of Level Homes. “Our focus is on the southeast U.S. … and on being a top 10 builder in each new market we enter.” So far, Level has more than 3,000 residential lots at developments in Louisiana and the Carolinas. Among its local projects are Americana and Copper Mill in Zachary, and Shadows of Ascension in Prairieville. Rojas describes Level as a regional boutique developer and builder, whose homes target first-time and move-up homebuyers with mid-priced homes that range in size from 1,875- to 3,400-square feet. Level Homes partner Todd Waguespack says the Carolinas are a particularly attractive market because of their stability and the consistent demand in the Raleigh-Durham area. “It’s a great market with great job growth,” he says. “It was very stable throughout the downturn and didn’t have the ebbs and flows of a south Florida or California.” —Stephanie Riegel
'Business Report' planner: 4 La. Supreme Court Justices to participate in panel discussion … CABL annual meeting is Thursday … City of St. George committee holds public meeting Thursday evening
The Baton Rouge Federalist Society Chapter hosts Louisiana Supreme Court Justices Jeff Hughes, Jeff Victory, Marcus Clark and Greg Guidry for a panel discussion from noon to 1:30 p.m at Galatoire's, 3535 Perkins Road. Tickets are $25 for Federalist Society members and $30 for guests. Get tickets.Thursday:
The Council for A Better Louisiana hosts its annual meeting at L'Auberge Casino & Hotel, with events running from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Cost is $85. Get complete details and register to attend.Thursday:
The Committee to Incorporate the City of St. George will hold a public meeting from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Woodlawn Baptist Church, 5805 Jones Creek Road.
For the full list of upcoming events, click here.
Oil and gas spending to hit record in 2014
Oil and gas companies will spend more money in 2014 than ever on exploration and production, with $723 billion expected to fund the global effort, Fuelfix.com reports, citing projections from Barclays. The financial services firm anticipates spending will jump 6.1% from the 2013 level of $682 billion, driven by high oil prices and increased success worldwide. “Despite fears of capital spending peaking, (capital expenditures) will reach yet another record this year, surpassing the $700 billion mark for the first time,” says James West, lead oil services and drilling analyst for Barclays. Rapid expansions in the United States, the Middle East and Latin America are among the trends driving the spending growth. In the United States, oil and gas companies have identified so many potential well sites that they could be busy producing from those known resources for decades. Says West: “We believe well inventories are at the highest level ever for companies to drill in the United States.” Although spending on U.S. exploration and production grew just 2% in 2013, it likely will surge next year as major companies focus less on international opportunities and pour more money into domestic plays, the analyst predicts. Spending on exploration and production in the Middle East is expected to jump 14%, largely because of expanded efforts in Saudi Arabia, West says.
News roundup: Entergy signs six-year deal to supply electricity to Sasol plant … La. ranked No. 22 in U.S. for smoking prevention, cessation spending … Jindal marks opening of new medical education center
Providing the power:
Entergy Gulf States Louisiana announced today it has signed a six-year contract to provide Sasol North America Inc. with 200 megawatts of electric power for Sasol’s proposed ethane cracker and derivatives project in Westlake, beginning in mid-2015. That’s enough energy to serve 40,000 homes consuming an average 5 kilowatts of electricity per home, representing the output of an average-sized combined-cycle (natural gas-fired) power plant. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed. Entergy has more details in the full announcement.Somewhere in the middle:
A national report released today to mark 15 years since a landmark tobacco settlement says Louisiana ranks No. 22 nationally in funding of programs to prevent kids from smoking and to help smokers quit. The report, issued by a coalition of groups that includes the American Heart Association and Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, says Louisiana currently spends $8 million a year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs. That’s about 15% of the $53.5 million recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Louisiana will collect $279.5 million in revenue from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes this year, but will spend just 2.9% of it on tobacco prevention programs, according to the report.Brand new day:
Gov. Bobby Jindal joined officials from LSU and Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center today to mark the opening of the new LSU Health Medical Education and Innovation Center on OLOL’s main hospital campus in Baton Rouge. The new center—part of the state’s public-private hospital partnerships finalized earlier this year—will serve as a hub for LSU’s Baton Rouge-based physician training and graduate medical education program. Jindal says the partnership will allow for training up to 190 medical residents and students on the campus each month. Prior to the transition, just 77 residents and students could receive training there per month, Jindal says, adding that the number is expected to grow to nearly 315 during the 2013-14 academic year. Jindal has more details on today’s announcement at his website.