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Category Archives: Ascension

Proposed industrial expansions in Ascension receive backing for tax exemptions from parish – The Advocate

Posted: November 7, 2019 at 10:42 pm

DONALDSONVILLE Five proposed industrial expansions in Ascension Parish totaling $784 million in capital spending received a key nod Thursday for property tax exemptions over the next eight to 10 years.

The Parish Council voted on six incentive applications for the five projects seeking exemptions for a combined $17.3 million in property tax revenue, parish estimates say.

If the companies build the proposed expansions, they would bring 13 new jobs combined, pull in millions in sales tax collections on construction and still draw a combined $90.6 million in property tax revenue for all local governments over the next 30 years.

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All of the incentives through the Louisiana Industrial Tax Exemption program also were approved this week by the School Board, but still need backing from Sheriff Bobby Webre and Gov. John Bel Edwards.

The state program exempts most, and some cases all, local property tax collections on new industrial machinery and equipment. Edwards has changed the value and length of the exemptions through various modifications and altered the approval process as some advocates and local officials had found fault with the older method that didn't seek local input.

Two of the tax break proposals, for two phases of expansions at Air Liquide's operations in Geismar off La. 30 worth a combined $278 million, also need support from the state Board of Commerce and Industry because the phases were proposed under older rules. The other applications, proposed under later rules, already have the board's backing.

The other projects, all of which would be in Geismar, are a $100 million expansion of Westlake Vinylspolyvinyl chloride and vinyl chloride monomer facilities, a $560 million ammonia plant for PCS Nitrogen Fertilizer, and a $276 million expansion at the Huntsman and Rubicon joint venture.

The PCS Nitrogen plant straddles Ascension and Iberville parish lines. Ascension's share of the expansion is valued at $130 million. The council only considered a tax exemption for that part of the project.

The Huntsman-Rubicon project required two tax exemption applications.

The Parish Council, many of whose members do or have worked in industry, ratified the deals with little comment and no statements from the public on Thursday.

In many cases, the votes happened so quickly that Kate MacArthur, director of the parish economic development arm, wasn't even given a chance to finish her presentations to speak in support of each of the proposals. For several votes, a handful council members abstained because of their ties to industry. No application drew a "no" vote.

The applications skipped the normal review by the parish Finance Committee, which meets next week and typically makes recommendations to the full council, because MacArthur is expected to be out of town and the council is running out of full meetings before the end of the year.

In an interview, MacArthur said the batch of applications in one setting was a quirk of the schedule and not timed with year's end. The council will see major turnover next year after elections this fall. A new parish president will also take office. She said two more tax exemption requests are coming in early 2020.

MacArthur said the parish's local governments have backed other, more capital-intensive projects with larger proposed tax abatements, including more than $1 billion projects for expansions by Methanex and Shell.

Methanex, which got backing last year, decided earlier this year to go forward with up to a $1.4 billion methanol plant, MacArthur said. It will be the third in Ascension.

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Proposed industrial expansions in Ascension receive backing for tax exemptions from parish - The Advocate

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River Region Art Association craft project to create decorated bottles – The Advocate

Posted: at 10:42 pm

Mary Crochet will lead a craft project of painting decorative bottles from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 9 at the Depot Art Gallery of the River Region Art Association,320 E. Ascension St., Suite C, Gonzales.

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The fee is $40, plus $5 for supplies. The gallery has paints and many bottles to choose from. To see photos of Crochet's decorated bottles, and to register, visit riverregionartassociation.org.

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River Region Art Association craft project to create decorated bottles - The Advocate

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Attacks step up in House 88 race as final days pass, early voting comes to close – The Advocate

Posted: at 10:42 pm

GONZALESIn the final days of the Republican-on-Republican runoff in the state House 88 election, the battle to establish in voters' minds who would make the more conservative and trustworthy candidate is reaching a fever pitch.

The campaign for Brandon Trosclair has stepped up attacks on opponent Kathy Edmonston's record as a one-term member of a state education panel, calling her the mouthpiece the governor and claiming she is beholden to trial lawyers.

Meanwhile, a Louisiana PAC funded largely by trial lawyers has blasted Trosclair,through online videos and mail-outs, over his arrest in the mid-2000's.

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Trosclair led a three-person primary on Oct. 12 over Edmonston and former U.S. Army combat veteran Ryan Beissinger, holding a nearly 1,070-vote lead over Edmonston, the second-place finisher.

Trosclair and Edmonston are heading to the Nov. 16 runoff. Early voting ends Saturday.

Both Trosclair and Edmonston said they favor a smaller, more efficient government and generally hold conservative positions likely to appeal to many voters in the House district covering parts of the Prairieville, St. Amant and Gonzales areas in Ascension Parish.

In a forum last month, Trosclair accused Edmonston, a state party official who won the Republican Party's endorsement, of accepting help from Napoleon PAC, Gumbo PAC and trial lawyers, including from the firm of former Republican state Sen. Jody Amedee, a plaintiff's attorney based in Gonzales.

At the time, Napoleon PAC and Gumbo PAC, outside groups that make expenditures on races independent of candidates' campaigns, hadn't spent on the House race. The House 88 seat is held by outgoing Republican state Rep. Johnny Berthelot and hadn't been a key seat to further Republican control of the House.

Last month, however, Trosclair and his campaign manager, J Hudson, promised that outside spending would be coming, and it has in some cases.

Napoleon PAC, which has had heavy donations from plaintiffs' firms in recent election cycles but also from a state teacher's union, has aired a Facebook video and mailed out fliers questioning Trosclair over his 2006 arrest on a misapplication of funds count stemming from his time as a contractor and as well as related litigation.

"Trosclair says trust him. His record says we shouldn't," the Napoleon PAC video says.

The criminal charge was dropped after Trosclair completed a pretrial diversion program. Trosclair says the incident was the result of an unfortunate situation and that he was cleared of any wrongdoing.

Campaign finance reports filed after the Oct. 12 primary show Edmonston received $2,500 from Talbot, Carmouche and Marcello, a major plaintiffs' law firm heavily involved in legacy oil cases that have drawn the ire of the industry and business lobby.

"The trial lawyers have their candidate in this race, and it's Kathy Edmonston. The people who sue the oil and gas industry and keep auto insurance high have one candidate, and it's Kathy Edmonston," Hudson said in an interview Wednesday.

Trosclair's attacks come amid a pitched fundraising battle between trial lawyers and the business lobby in statewide and some regional judicial races as an array of coastal and legacy lawsuits wind their way through the courts and may be ripe for key decisions in the next term.

Edmonston countered that Trosclair has been cherry-picking donations she's received from longtime personal friends in Ascension who are also lawyers. That support, she said, doesn't affect her view that litigation from the plaintiffs' bar should be "reined in."

"There is nothing between me and any trial lawyers, I can assure you," she said.

She also pointed to other donors who are supporters of conservative causes in Ascension Parish. Among them are Al and Theresa Robert, the restaurateurs and big landowners who are active in the local Republican Party and parish politics. Together, they gave Edmonston $3,000 combined.

Trey Ourso, who manages Napoleon and the Gumbo PACs, said he wasn't even paying attention to the House 88 race and didn't know much about either of the candidates until Trosclair began making claims about the PACs and drawing attention to the race.

"Ask, you shall receive," Ourso said.

The Gumbo PAC is exclusively focused on Gov. John Bel Edwards.

Edmonston, who has sent her own mailouts raising Trosclair's old criminal charge, said she didn't know anything about Napoleon PAC's involvement until she got one of its fliers in the mail.

Trosclair has also tried to amplify his critiques of Edmonston's time on the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, charging in mail-outs that she didn't halt the introduction of Common Core curriculum standards a few years ago. He has also attacked her opposition to letter grades for school accountability scores.

Trosclair, who says he opposed Common Core "100%" and supported school letter grades, has gotten endorsements and campaign funding from the Louisiana Association for Business and Industry, other business groups and Baton Rouge contractor Lane Grigsby. They have been backers of stronger accountability measures and the charter school movement generally but also Common Core.

Edmonston, who works in Ascension public schools, said she remains an opponent of Common Core. She said she was unable to halt standards on BESE because she was outnumbered by other members backed by Grigsby and others supporting the standards.

She was the only vote against it in a key March 2016 BESE vote. She said she did oppose school letter grades because she believes the entire system needs to be revamped but supports accountability measures that don't punish students and teachers.

The Common Core education standards, which were pushed by National Governors Association but happened under then-President Barack Obama, have remained controversial among conservatives and some parents.

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Gonzales VFW gets tax-saving tips, rebuilding donation from Ascension Parish assessor – The Advocate

Posted: at 10:42 pm

Ascension Parish Assessor M.J. 'Mert' Smiley, left, presents a check for $500 to Brent Gautreau, commander ofGonzales Memorial Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3693, to contribute to building a new facility to replace the one razed after August 2016 flooding.

Members of Gonzales Memorial Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3693 recently heard from Ascension Parish Assessor M.J. Mert Smiley, who discussed property tax exemptions available for qualifying disabled veterans and donated $500 toward replacing the post hall razed after August 2016 flooding.

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Veterans with a 50% disability rating qualify for a freeze on the assessed value of their homes during reassessments. Veterans with 100% service-connected disability ratings are eligible a doubling of their homestead exemption from $75,000 to $150,000.

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Gonzales VFW gets tax-saving tips, rebuilding donation from Ascension Parish assessor - The Advocate

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Ascension Seton mock surgeries offer the public a rare glimpse inside the operating room – KVUE.com

Posted: at 10:42 pm

AUSTIN, Texas The public got a rare behind-the-scenes look at a "live" heart transplant at Ascension Seton Medical Center on Saturday.

It wasn't a real surgery, only a demonstration. But the surgeons were real.

The event was geared toward young adults to spark interest in the medical field.

Dr. Jonathan Yang is a cardiothoracic surgeon. He said the event was a good way for Ascension Seton doctors to engage with the community and especially the young adults who are thinking about going into the medical field.

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"We've had questions about whether the fat around the heart is normal. They also asked about bypass surgery and the vein, where we get vein from ... Questions about, basically, 'How does the body stay alive during the period when the heart is taken out and the new heart is put in?'" Dr. Yang said

Ascension Seton recently opened six new operating rooms, and mock surgeries were held in all of them during the event.

"[The rooms are] wired for all the new technology that's out there. Robot use requires a certain type of infrastructure. All the minimally invasive techniques require certain types of hardware, all of which are essentially built into these rooms," Dr. Yang said.

Blood pressure, BMI and glucose screenings for adults were also offered at the event.

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Ascension man claiming to be with the ‘government’ arrested in bizarre police impersonation case – WBRZ

Posted: at 10:42 pm

ST. CHARLES PARISH - A man from Ascension Parish is charged in an unrelated case of police officer impersonation on interstates in the suburbs of New Orleans.

Peyton Oubre, 23, of Prairieville, was arrested for impersonating a police officer after an incident Saturday.

Sheriff's deputies in St. Charles said Oubre chased a vehicle from Jefferson Parish until a crash on I-310. Oubre was driving an Audi equipped with emergency lights, deputies said.

Investigators said Oubre confessed to giving chase because the other vehicle was being operated in a reckless manner. Oubre said he worked for the "government" but did not specify what agency, the sheriff's office said.

"When questioned about what government or where he worked specifically he was unable to provide specifics," the sheriff's office told WWL radio in New Orleans.

Oubre had a gun and handcuffs in his vehicle, deputies said, but there is no record of him being employed by any law enforcement or governmental agencies.

Authorities said this case is unrelated to other cases believed to be connected of impersonation in St. Charles and East Feliciana parishes.

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Ascension Athlete of the Week – Leesville Daily Leader

Posted: at 10:42 pm

WednesdayNov6,2019at8:00AM

Dutchtown's Dylan Sampson is the parish Athlete of the Week.

This week's Weekly Citizen Athlete of the Week is Dutchtown sophomore running back Dylan Sampson.

In the Griffins' 39-31 victory over St. Amant on Friday night, Sampson had a huge outing.

He carried the ball 24 times for 264 yards and four touchdowns. He also had one catch for 17 yards.

The victory improved the Griffins' overall record to 8-1.

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Ascension Athlete of the Week - Leesville Daily Leader

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2 explosive devices located at Ascension NE Wisconsin Mercy Campus in Oshkosh – WITI FOX 6 Milwaukee

Posted: at 10:42 pm

OSHKOSH An investigation is underway after two explosive devices were located at Ascension NE Wisconsin Mercy Campus located near 9th Avenue and Oakwood Road in the City of Oshkosh.

According to police, on Wednesday, Nov. 6at approximately 2:19 a.m., the Oshkosh Police Department was informed that an explosive device had been located in an individuals property. Upon further investigation, police located a second explosive device in the same persons property.

This individual is a 39-year-old man from Oshkosh. He is not an employee of Ascension NE Wisconsin Mercy Campus.

No threats were mentioned during this incident.

The Brown and Outagamie County Bomb Squad responded to this location to safely remove the devices. A search of the mans car and Oshkosh home were conducted and no other explosive devices were located.

The 39-year-old man has been detained and the investigation is ongoing.

No one was injured during this incident and the public is not in danger.

If anybody has any information regarding this incident, they are encouraged to contact Detective Hinke at the Oshkosh Police Department at 920-236-5703.

If you have information about this incident, but wish to remain anonymous, please contact the Winnebago County Crime Stoppers at (920) 231-8477; or add the free P3 App to your Apple or Android phone and add a tip, or go to http://www.winnebagocrimestoppers.org to submit a text tip. If your tip leads to an arrest, you may be eligible for a cash reward.

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Area law enforcement agencies to participate in No Shave November – The Advocate

Posted: at 10:42 pm

Several area law enforcement agencies are working together to participate in No Shave November, a national effort to raise awareness and funding for the fight against cancer in the month.

Deputies and officers who donate $25 will be allowed to grow a beard during the month of November. Typically, per policy, many agencies prohibit facial hair other than a mustache. These policies will be suspended for the month of November for those who donate money at each agency.

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The Ascension Parish Sheriffs Office spearheaded the project and challenged several other agencies. Those agencies are: Gonzales Police Department, East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriffs Office, Lafourche Parish Sheriffs Office, Thibodaux Police Department, Lockport Police Department, Golden Meadow Police Department and the Port Fourchon Harbor Police.

All money collected will be donated to the American Cancer Society at the end of the month, according to a news release from Sheriff Bobby Webre .

Everyone is welcomed to join in the efforts to participate and raise money. Checks can be made out to the American Cancer Society and dropped off at your local law enforcement agency.

The American Cancer Society funds and conducts research, shares expert information, supports patients and spreads the word about prevention. For more information on the American Cancer Society, visit http://www.cancer.org.

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Ascension Sheriff’s office hosts more than 850 children at Boo with the Badge Halloween event – The Advocate

Posted: at 10:42 pm

More than 850 children filled their bags with candy and took part in arts and crafts, had free hot dogs and drinks and played basketball for candy at the Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office's Boo with the Badge Halloween event.

The Halloween party was at the Hickley M. Waguespack Center in Donaldsonville.

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Lt. Mike Brooks, manager ad coordinator of the substation and park at the center, said 850 to 1,000 children and adults lined up candy and to take part in other activities.

The volunteers packed 600 candy bags in advance and quickly ran out and had to fill more, he said.

Members of the Donaldsonville High School dance team helped children make masks for the evening.

"All the streets around the center were packed with children," Brooks said.

The Sheriff's Office also hosted a Boo with the Badge on Halloween night in Gonzales at the Holy Rosary Catholic Church fair.

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