Posts tagged ‘lake charles’

Police Jury to vote on map proposal April 7

*published Mar. 30, 2011

Calcasieu parish officials on Tuesday, presented a redistricting map filled with minor shifts in district lines.

“We focused on maintaining distinct communities, while still following federal laws,’’ said Kade Cole, the attorney who oversaw the redistricting.

The parish population according to the 2010 census is 192,768.

Majority minority districts, mandated by the Voting Rights Act, were slightly shifted south into central Lake Charles.

Each district would have a black voter population over 60 percent.

The second largest change was residents moving southwest in the parish, causing changes in Districts 6 and 7, which stretch from the airport to Ward Line Road.

The largest overall population increase was District 8 in south Lake Charles, which is the Barbe school district.

The Gillis area was moved from District 1 with Moss Bluff to District 10 with LeBleu Settlement.

A northern section of Westlake, would be moved from District 3 to District 14, with the rest of the city.

Far west districts that include the Vinton and Starks area were unchanged.

For an April 30 election, which is a local option election on Mojito Point casino resort, the polling places will be listed on the Police Jury website.

The Police Jury voting on the map on April 7.

Officials then send the map to the Department of Justice for approval, which takes about 120 days to review.

March 30, 2011 at 12:54 am

Advocates: Child abuse requires more attention

One in four girls and one in six boys will suffer some type of abuse before they turn 18, according to the Family & Youth Counseling Agency’s Children’s Advocacy Center.

“I think a lot of people wonder, ‘Why should I care?’” said agency director David Duplechian. Well, “if it’s not your child, it may be your child’s friends or a future son or daughter-in-law.”

Duplechian shared the statistics on Friday during an area meeting of child advocates to discuss the many issues that lead to child abuse or neglect.

“There is more stress in families than ever before,” Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach said, citing the economic recession.

“It’s real easy to feel all warm and fuzzy; it’s another thing to go out and help,” Roach said.

Penny Haxthausen with the Calcasieu Parish School Board said parents and children must proactively address issues that children deal with such as pregnancy, eating disorders, child abuse, bullying and cyberbullying.

“We also find that many of these issues are related. One trauma such as a loss of a close relative may lead to anger because they have no one to talk to,” Haxthausen said. “We need to be more aware of what our children are dealing with and take the time to talk with them.”

Catherine Michaels, regional manager of the state department of child and family services, said Hurricanes Katrina and Rita provided the perfect storm in terms of stress for families.

“Our number of child abuse investigations have been going up since 2005,” she said.

Duplechian encouraged attendees to be a friend to other parents by doing things like offering to babysit so those parents can go out together, relieving built-up stress. He also urged attendees to allow abuse awareness groups to speak at school, churches and civic groups to spread the message.

Roach encouraged attendees to take more action.

“Show me, don’t tell me,” he said.

March 21, 2011 at 1:09 am

As Lake Charles rose with the rail, Railroad Avenue became hub

This photo from 1898 shows Railroad Avenue in an era when lumber and rice were the mainstays of the local economy. This stretch of the thoroughfare was known as “Battle Row.” (MCNEESE ARCHIVES / SPECIAL TO THE AMERICAN PRESS)

The one-mile stretch of Railroad Avenue that ends at North Ryan Street is a quiet area with, for the most part, grass-filled lots and a few unassuming businesses.

During Lake Charles’ first big population explosion in the 1880s, that area served as the business and residential hub of the town.

Lake Charles developed around the lumber and shipping industries, and when the Southern Pacific and Kansas City, Watkins and Gulf railroads were built in the 1890s, the rail became the main mode of transportation for goods and people.

In those eight blocks, there was a depot for passengers headed to all parts of the still expanding United States, cafes, grocery and drug stores, theaters and meat and fish markets, according to an Oct. 1981 article in Today’s World magazine.

The businesses served locals whose neighborhoods fanned out from the strip and passengers passing through on trains.

The Central Food Market, owned by the Banano family, served as a business and home for the large family. Its large balcony was the best place to watch the circus unloading its equipment and animals.

“The train cars would be parked for blocks as kids and grown-ups watched the unloading,” the article says.

There was also a baseball park just south Railroad Avenue, where Babe Ruth played during a 1921 exhibition game between the New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals.

In its heyday, the bustling business hub of Railroad Avenue had its seedy side, which attracted lumbermen and railroad workers in the area.

“Battle Row” was the nicer name for Lake Charles’ red light district, which was just south of the Southern Pacific railroad depot and ran from Kirkman to Reid streets.

Throughout the 1880s and early 1900s, temperance groups lobbied politicians to ban the gambling parlors and saloons, according to a Nov. 1972 American Press article.

Resolutions to “abolish houses of ill repute” were repeatedly voted down. The rumor was that the women of the houses knew too much.

In 1903, the City Council raised the cost of liquor licenses from $200 to $1,000, but 25 licenses were issued in one day.

That year, police recorded 92 arrests in one month for disorderly conduct, fighting or drunkenness and 102 similar arrests the next month.

As long as there was a demand, there was a supply.

Around the late 1950s, the main thoroughfare shifted to Ryan Street downtown. The neighborhoods around Railroad Avenue that had been mixed for almost 100 years, saw heavy white flight. Among those leaving were businesses owned by many Italian-American families.

The ACTS (Artists Civic Theater and Studio) was refurbished in the 1980s and still performs live stage plays and the Amtrak station serves local passengers at Railroad Avenue and North Ryan Street.

No other commercial businesses, such as convenience stores or restaurants, are along the avenue.

February 28, 2011 at 2:07 am

Lawmaker suggests Lacassine location for halfway house

A state lawmaker is suggesting an alternate location for a federal halfway house that has been proposed for residential areas in Lake Charles.

Community Transitional Services of Louisville, Ky., which has a contract to build the facility, has faced opposition from residents and city officials in regards to two sites — one at Cline and Emerald streets near J.J. Johnson Elementary School and the other on the 1800 block of Broad Street near Reynaud Middle School.

State Rep. A. B. Franklin is suggesting the Lacassine location of the Academy of Life Skills. In 2006, Jeff Davis Parish officials were opposed to the academy’s location, citing it’s proximity to residences and Lacassine High School.

Lee Mallett with the Academy said he chose Lacassine because he wanted to keep it away from more-heavily populated areas.

“Studies show (the homes) don’t hurt residents, but there is always an uproar,” Mallett said.

Franklin said he made multiple inquiries to the federal government to suggest the Lacassine location and got no response. Mallett said he reached out to the contractor, offering to work with them.

“We have 20 acres, and we’re accredited (by the Department of Corrections and American Correctional Association),” Mallett said.

Repeated calls to Community Transitional Services and the Bureau of Prisons requesting criteria for site selection were not returned.

February 16, 2011 at 1:59 am

Venezuelan man gets 19 years for cocaine smuggling

A Venezuelan man found guilty of smuggling cocaine was sentenced to 19 years and seven months in federal prison Thursday.

During trial, Carlos Hurtado-Valois, 31, claimed he didn’t know what was in the bags he and Felipe Gonzales-Valencia, 47, of Colombia, were carrying when they jumped off a ship docked in Lake Charles.

Gonzales-Valencia pleaded guilty and testified to the contrary. Jurors found Hurtado-Valois guilty in about 30 minutes.

A 911 call on Jan. 16, 2010, led Calcasieu Parish sheriff’s deputies to the two men, who were suffering from hypothermia on an island just west of Greywood golf course, officials said.

Deputies reportedly searched the island the next day and found life jackets, rope and eight duffel bags containing 176 kilograms of cocaine.

Sheriff Tony Mancuso estimated the street value of the drugs to be $6 million.

Federal agents took over the investigation and charged Hurtado-Valois and Gonzales-Valencia with conspiracy to import drugs; importation of drugs; possession with intent to distribute; and improperly entering the country.

Gonzales-Valencia was also charged with illegal re-entry.

February 4, 2011 at 2:19 am

FEMA flood maps: City to see little change

At a Tuesday night Lake Charles City Council agenda meeting, Federal Emergency Management Agency officials presented the new digital flood insurance rate maps for the city.

“You’ll see very little change to the map for the city. And there are areas that have improved because of some drainage projects,” said Michael Hunnicutt, deputy section chief for hazard mitigation.

Thanks to a proactive approach by the city to flood plain management, he said, there are few low-lying areas within the city limits.

FEMA set up a website — — for residents who want to see if their zoning status is changing. Resident can put in their addresses and see current and future zoning status.

The maps will take affect Feb. 18. Adoption or failure to do so affects federal funding and mortgage rates, said Hunnicutt.

Wayne Berggren, a federal insurance group supervisor, said a little more than 6,000 flood insurance policies are in affect in the city.

“The average amount of coverage in Calcasieu Parish is $202,000, and the average claim payment is $22,923,” Berggren said.

Hunnicutt said FEMA started the project in 2003, with the goal to redo flood maps across the nation.

In Louisiana, officials needed to re-evaluate some storm surge data after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

The City Council is scheduled to vote on whether to accept the maps at the Dec. 15 meeting.

Hunnicutt said Cameron Parish maps are now in the resolution period, in which a group of scientists review them, and that process should be completed within a year.

November 24, 2010 at 2:55 am

SEEKING UNITY: Realizing how we’re same focus of service in park

*published Sept. 13, 2010
Christians, Muslims find common ground in their respective faiths

Imam Ahmed El-Manlouk from the Islamist Center addresses the Common Ground service in Prien Lake Park on Sunday. The interfaith service was to remember those who lost their lives on 9/11 and to promote harmony between faiths. BY KAREN WINK

A small group of Lake Charles women brought together family and friends on Sunday to share a lesson they learned over coffee: We’re more alike than we are different.

The women, who have been meeting for coffee for about three years, decided two weeks ago to hold a Common Ground Celebration.

“It came together pretty fast,” said Pat Kelty, a member of the group.

“We were seeing a lot of negativity around, and we wanted to focus on the positive and do whatever we can,” said Aneeta Afzal.

Kelty said with the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, they felt it was important to focus on diversity.

During the ceremony, Christian and Islamic leaders spoke about working together and interacting with each other.

“We approached them, and they were all so enthusiastic about the whole thing. It’s amazing, really,” Afzal said.

Students from Episcopal Day School read quotes from various religions that share the common theme of treating others as you want to be treated. “We see the negative played out so often when there is a lot of good and unity and cooperation, and we wanted to give that a voice,” said the Rev. Roger Templeton with St. Luke-Simpson United Methodist Church before the service.

Imam Ahmed El-Mamlouk of the Islamic Society of Lake Charles called the ceremony a very good step to create a bridge between all faiths.

He said the Islamic Center is open to all people of all faiths or anyone who would like information on Islam.

“I believe today we can start the right thing the right way and spread a bridge between other faiths,” El-Mamlouk said.

The Rev. Karl Klaus, also with St. Luke-Simpson, spoke on following Jesus’ teaching of loving your neighbor.

“I would hope that all Christians would rediscover these true Christian values,” Klaus said.


September 13, 2010 at 7:36 pm

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