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WHAT'S HOT
Lots of knots. Lisa Gentry (seen at right) of Chatham, the fastest crocheter in the world, according to Guinness World Records, hooked two more records at the 2008 Knit-Out & Crochet at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn. – one as America’s fastest knitter and another as the international champion in speed-crocheting. Born in Germany, Gentry originally came to America as a nanny, once owned a yarn shop and holds her Guinness title for crocheting 5,113 stitches in 30 minutes at a Michaels craft store in Monroe. She’s just released a book called I Can’t Believe I’m Chain Knitting.
How many candles? Springfield, the oldest town in Livingston Parish, is celebrating its 170th birthday this year. Incorporated in 1838, Springfield closed its town charter in the 1880s but reorganized in 1959 and since then has been served by only three mayors: Dewey Ratcliff and Harold Abels and the current mayor of 20 years, Charlie Martin. “We’ve always tried to be a little, small, quaint community,” Martin says. Nevertheless, under his tenure the town has gotten a new city hall and a new sewer system.
Cyber spacing. As part of a new national focus to defend cyberspace, the U.S. Air Force has “provisionally” placed its new Cyber Command at Barksdale Air Force Base. A $100 million research park, the Cyber Innovation Center, is designed to plug private business into the work that could be generated from the new command. The state has pledged $50 million, matched by $50 million from Bossier City and Bossier Parish, to build the research park.
Red carpet treatment. Talented Theatre students at Amite and Sumner high schools traveled by limousine to the world premiere of their movies at the Tangipahoa Parish School System’s Central Office. The Amite students’ movie, Guilt, explored unkindness to a new student; Sumner students titled one film about a student with a heart ailment Sierra. Their other movie, In the Mirror, explored two story lines, one about a girl with an eating disorder and the other about a boy tempted to take steroids.
Hogging the bridge. The new Rigolets Pass Bridge on U.S. Highway 90 cost $50.5 million to build and is 5,491 feet long and 72 feet high at its highest point. The first vehicle over the concrete span was a big Harley-Davidson motorcycle carrying Slidell resident Sheldon Nothacker and his passenger, Shelly Gamczak. The bridge has been under construction since October 2004.
Bean counters. Soybean prices went from about $6 per bushel in 2006 to about $11 per bushel in 2007. “It looks like we are making a lot more, but the cost of production has accelerated,” says Byron Lemoine, a Hamburg soybean farmer. It’s still among the best of times for Louisiana producers, says Charles Cannatella, president of the Louisiana Soybean Association, who is excited about the possibility of a state mandate that some soybean-based biodiesel fuel use could eventually be required. Soybeans remain Louisiana’s chief crop, with more than 1 million acres grown annually.
Licensing largemouths. An additional $26 over the regular license fee can get you a Louisiana Largemouth Bass license plate at Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles offices or at http://omv.dps.state.la.us at the “Special Plates” link. The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation, in conjunction with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, created the license plate to help fund a black bass stocking program. The plates feature the words “Bass Angler” and a Louisiana largemouth black bass jumping out of the water set against a water-and-sky background.

WHAT'S NOT

Roads tripped. Overdrive truckers magazine’s 2007 Highway Report Card awarded Louisiana first place among states for worst roads. Getting special mention was Interstate 10. Trucker Wayne Strother Sr. of Bunkie, who hauls grain and produce from Texas to Georgia, noted a 35-mile stretch of I-10 around Lake Charles. “It’s falling to pieces over there,” he says. “You have to run in the left lane to keep from tearing your stuff up.”

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