2013: A year in review

Written by Aaron Williams on . Posted in Local


The story that dominated headlines

In West Baton Rouge and surrounding areas, and even made political waves statewide and across the country, was Demetric “Deedy” Slaughter’s reign and fall as mayor of Port Allen, as she was elected and began serving her four-year term in January, and was abruptly recalled in November. Former Mayor Lynn Robertson was named Interim Mayor by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal until a special election can be held to elect a new mayor to complete the remaining nearly-three years of Slaughter’s term.

The Journal’s January 10 edition hosted an article titled “A new era begins,” after Slaughter was sworn into office. And nearly every week after that, Port Allen’s mayor and city council were making headlines, from the firing of the city’s CFO in February to the recall election in November and Robertson’s swearing-in in December - the real life soap opera called Port Allen politics never ceased to make news.

Brusly robbery ends in death

In the January 24 edition, the headline story, “Brusly robbery ends in death,” was likely the biggest single day of news of the year within the parish.

Ray Charles Hayes, a Port Allen man, robbed Noah’s Pharmacy in Brusly, thieving a pillowcase full of prescription drugs and cash. He then took a hostage at gunpoint and stole an Addis P.D. vehicle during his attempt to evade police custody.

After a high-speed car chase, Hayes crashed the police vehicle he was driving , colliding with other vehicles on the Hwy 1 in Port Allen. He then got out of the stolen car and engaged in a stand-off with police before being shot to death.

Brandy Hotard

Brandy Hotard took Port Allen by storm after appearing on FOX’s hit reality television singing competition American Idol.

The Journal chronicled Hotard’s rise from her first appearance in the January 31 edition, to her break into the top 40 contestants in the February 21 edition, to her final performance, in the February 28 edition.

BHSWrestlers champs again

The Brusly Panthers wrestlers notched another state title in their belt, winning their ninth Division 3 championship in 10 years. The February 21 sports headline read “Dynasty!”

The article, by John Dupont, indicated that the Panthers coasted to the championship, easily winning the Championship Tournament at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner.

CFO firing and reversal

The February 14 edition of the Journal’s headline read “Port Allen CFO ousted.” The article, written by Emily Bell, detailed Moyar “Deedy” Slaughter’s decision to fire Audrey McCain, the city’s CFO, in a political move that would eventually backfire, as McCain was given her job back in a matter of weeks.

The Feb. 21 edition showcased an article that said the firing had been halted by the city council, and the next week, Feb. 28., an article read that a judge made a ruling in court that McCain was to be given her position of CFO back, and that she would continue to work for the city.

The case thrusted the council and mayor into many debates about what is considered a “Department Head” in the city. Several attempts were made by the council to establish department heads, but each attempt was shot down by Slaughter, as the matter had yet to be dealt with in court.

WBR School security beefed up

The January 17 edition of the Journal showed that the WBRSchool Board began tackling security discussions following the devastating shooting that took place in Newtown, Conn., where a gunman shot and killed 26 people, including 20 elementary school children.

The board began talking about beefing up security in all area schools.

Jan. 24, Feb. 28 and March 28 also showed the progress being made in security discussions, and actions being made at each school.

The school superintendent David Corona, along with WBR Sheriff Major Jerome Fontenot and others, collaborated to make several changes to security.

Cinclare Tower

A story int he May 16 edition of the Journal highlighted the restoration project by the Cinclare Sugar Plantation owners, Harry L. Laws & Company, Inc.

The company’s vice president Drew Maciasz told the article’s writer, Aaron Williams, that “the smoke stack is an iconic symbol for Brusly and the west side.”

The 210 ft. tall smoke stack was pressure-washed and letters were re-painted to its original form, which was a special sight to many in the Brusly area.

BHSSoftball crowned champs

The Brusly Panthers softball team won the state championship and was featured on the Journal’s front page for their feat on May 2. The Lady Panthers defeated Notre Dame-Crowley 5-3 in Sulphur to win the Louisiana State High School Athletic Association Class 3A championship.

Renee Murdoch

The March 7 story about Renee Murdoch, titled “An Undying Faith,” showcased the Brusly native who is now a missionary in Rio de Jianeiro, Brazil.

Murdoch was beaten nearly to death by a homeless man in a brutal and random attack during a routine run along the beach near her home in Brazil.

She shared that God moved through her family’s faith and prayers from around the world from people of all religions, as she made a miraculous recovery, with complete restoration of her mind and body.

Lady Pels win powerlifting championship

The Port Allen High Lady Pels Powerlifting team became the first LHSAA state powerlifting title. The Pels had won the championship three years in a row, but the 2012-2013 season was the first under the LHSAA banner.

Port Allen Budget

The West Side Journal called them “Battling Budgets” in the May 9 edition, which featured an article about the city of Port Allen’s budget crisis, which would last until 2014.

The mayor and council could not come to an agreement about budgets, as city CFO Audrey McCain created a budget, as did mayor “Deedy” Slaughter.

June 30’s edition highlighted Slaughter’s budget while the July 4 edition showecased that the council shut down budget discussions.

On September 19, an article read that Slaughter introduced another budget, nearly identical to the one that had been shut down by the council earlier in the year. The budget was again voted down.

In the October 17 edition, reporter Emily Bell wrote that the council questioned the mayor’s budget preparation and opted to defer the budget to a later date.

In the October 31 edition, reports read that a budget was passed by the council, but Slaughter vetoed the budget, according to the November 14 issue.

The issue of the budget remains, as a budget still has not been passed for the city, but interim mayor Lynn Robertson, whom the governor appointed after Slaughter’s vacating office following her recall, said that one of her goals while in office for a short stint, is to get a budget passed.

Splash Pads

Big news for kids throughout the parish during the past summer - Splash Pads opened in four separate areas in the parish. The July 4 edition showed that Erwinville, Port Allen, Brusly and Addis saw the construction and opening of the pads, which gave youngsters throughout the area something fun to look forward to in the summertime.

WBR graduation

The May 23 edition of the Journal highlighted the graduations of Port Allen and Brusly high schools.

The graduation ceremonies took place May 16 (BHS) and 17 (PAHS).

Nicholas Kissner

Nicholas Kissner was found drowned at the lake-bottom of a waterpark in Denham Springs - and his father, John Kissner, said that the waterpark, Cajun Lagoon, was to blame for his 14-year-old son’s death.

In the heartbreaking story, which was in the August 8 edition of the Journal, John Kissner said that the park was unsafe and placed blame solely on them after he found that his son had died during an outing with a church group.

Massage parlor arrests

Police busted two local massage parlors, arresting six, for prostitution. In the November 28 edition of the Journal, in an article titled “Not-so-happy ending,” Aaron Williams reported that the Louisiana State Police, in collaboration with the West Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office, held a two-month long undercover operation that alleged that two establishments in Port Allen (outside city limits) were offering sexual favors in return for money.

Sylviane: after 2 years

The Journal’s July 18 and 25 editions featured stories about Sylviane Finck Lozada and her mysterious disappearance two years ago. Many facts of the missing persons case remain unknown as Lozada’s family and friends worldwide seem to have lost hope that she is still alive, but continue to remember her.

The Recall Effort

Port Allen residents’ recall effort came to a head as many gathered a petition to recall the city’s mayor, “Deedy” Slaughter.

An article in the September 5 edition of the Journal, titled, “Total Recall” said that more than 1,400 signatures were collected in the recall effort.

The Sept. 12 edition showed that enough signatures were verified by the WBRRegistrar of Voters, Stacy Ryan, and the governor, Bobby Jindal, would name an election date for a special recall election in the city.

Sept. 26, the Journal’s Emily Bell reported the date of the election, which was followed very closely by many media outlets throughout the BR area.

In the November 21 edition of the Journal, the headline read “Ousted” as the recall was completed and Slaughter was, indeed, ousted from office. The Nov 28 edition noted that Slaughter did not contest the results of the elction and vacated office.

Gov. Bobby Jindal would later appoint former Port Allen Mayor Lynn Robertson as the Interim Mayor until city residents elect a new mayor in a special election to be held in April.

Azalee Carroll

Azalee Carroll stole the hearts of West Baton Rougeans everywhere, as the 6-year-old cancer patient became the focus of the Port Allen Pelicans football team, as the team adopted Carroll, who was the niece of one of the players, and prayed for her before every practice and game.

The September 19 edition of the Journal showcased the team’s desire to bring healing to the little girl and her family.

The Journal also featured a benefit event for Azalee, a “rainbow run” which was held at Port Allen High School.

The benefit was held to raise money for cancer research and to help Azalee’s cause.

Unfortunately, in the November 28 edition of the Journal, a story ran that told of the death of Azalee, who lost her battle with cancer.

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