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Regional Reports from across the state

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Baton Rouge/Plantation Country

News Brief Deputized

Newly elected New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s vision of a deputy mayors system, modeled on similar chains of command in New York and Chicago, is coming to fruition. According to the Baton Rouge Advocate, joining Landrieu’s team of six deputy mayors is Donaldsonville resident and Ascension Parish Chief Administrative Officer Cedric Grant. Grant is no stranger to New Orleans mayoral administrations, having served there as CAO and deputy CAO. He once worked as deputy secretary of the state highway department under Gov. Kathleen Blanco. From 2004 to 2008, Grant managed road and highways projects for Parsons Corp. in Atlanta. 

Grant has been Ascension Parish President Tommy Martinez’s go-to guy, especially in the crusade to establish a regional sewage treatment system on the east bank of the parish. Following Hurricane Gustav, he worked extensively in the recovery grant program as well as working on developing a more viable business model for Gonzales’ Lamar-Dixon Expo Center.

Grant’s work in the Landrieu administration will cover facilities, community development and infrastructure; he will also coordinate with public works departments and capital projects to facilitate rebuilding and upkeep of roads and buildings. 

“We will have a hard time replacing someone with Cedric’s experience and knowledge,” said Martinez. “I know he will do a good job in New Orleans, and I am proud that he got this job.”

Fork in the Road Boutin’s on Bluebonnet

Boutin’s Restaurant offers lively entertainment accompanied by servings of delicious Cajun food. You could begin your meal with an appetizer, soup and salad and not have to progress on to the equally delicious entrees, so filling and enjoyable are the preliminary dishes. Crawfish won tons, delightfully puffy little treats, are filled with crawfish wrapped in a won ton skin, nestling amid Parmesan and pepper jack cheeses, accompanied by the green heat of jalapeño cooled down by plum-ginger sauce. While you’re waiting for your bowl of étouffée, bisque or gumbo, you might want to nibble on Poche’s Andouille –– a spicy and delicious slowly grilled pork that demands to be savored.

Crabmeat-stuffed mushrooms that are deep-fried after being coddled in bread crumbs are a wonderful segue to the corn and crab bisque. This sweet blend of Louisiana crabmeat melds perfectly with the flavor of creamy corn.

Highly recommended either with or before your soup course is the Zydeco Salad, a mélange of romaine and iceberg lettuces, Roma tomatoes, carrots, spring mix, eggs and croutons all topped with the flavorful glory of blackened catfish and chicken and grilled shrimp and andouille.

Boutin’s Restaurant, 8322 Bluebonnet Road, Baton Rouge, (225) 819-9862.

Greater New Orleans

Profile Photographic Pencils
Placing a drawing pencil in ninth-grader Meredith Graf’s hands is like shooting a photograph. Just finishing her freshman year at Louise S. McGehee School in New Orleans, Graf has already received national accolades for her artwork –– and with little wonder.  Her pencil drawing of former President George W. Bush captures every careworn line on his face and the expression in his eyes, showing an artistic insight well beyond her years. After Katrina, Graf gifted Bush with a sketch of his hands, a symbolic gesture of the outreach of help he extended to the stricken city. In honor of her artwork, Graf was invited to the White House. 

This gifted award-winning young artist, who works in a variety of art media, was recently asked by the Endangered Species Coalition to design the trophy that will be given to its 2010 art contest winner.  To commemorate Endangered Species Day this past May, young artists were encouraged to submit their work in a contest. 

According to Leda Huta, executive director of the Endangered Species Coalition, Graf was a perfect choice to design the trophy.

“She is a gifted artist ... we are proud to have her represent the ideals of preservation and conservation that are at the heart of the contest,” said Huta. 

In 2004, Graf produced an oil painting of the Louisiana flag that included then-Rep. Bobby Jindal’s name and the parishes in his district that won first place in the Louisiana Junior Duck Stamp competition. Jindal accepted the painting in person at her school.

Worth Watching (in Retrospect) Sauvé’s Crevasse 

Ten years ago, I was about to move to a home on the 17th Street Canal, but these plans “annoyingly” fell through, and I was diverted to a home on the Mississippi River levee in River Ridge instead.   The spot on the 17th Street Canal levee where I was to live turned out to be the site of the breach caused by Katrina.

God was with me. The angels were guiding me. However you want to view it, I dodged a major bullet.

In that transitory period of twilight one recent evening, I was walking the base of the levee where I now live, suddenly overwhelmed with curiosity about the history of the area –– so I dived into a little research. 

River Ridge was once the site of many sugar plantations, one of which belonged to Pierre Sauvé and lay 17 miles from New Orleans.  In early May 1849, the high waters of the Mississippi broke the levee on his land.  In what became known as Sauvé’s Crevasse, the Mississippi rampantly spilled through the irreparable break until June 20 when two engineers managed to staunch it. 

This was the last Mississippi River flood to hit New Orleans: By May 15, the waters reached Rampart Street and spilled into what is now Uptown and the Central Business District of New Orleans. The flood reached as far as Oak Street.  Floodwaters reached a height of 12 feet, and 12,000 residents were displaced from or stranded in their homes.  The depth and areas flooded by the waters of Sauvé’s Crevasse exceeded the devastation wrought by Katrina. 

Soon after the water finally receded, New Orleans was hit by a cholera epidemic.


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