LOS ANGELES –– On April 6, representatives of The Recording Academy – the organization that hosts the prestigious Grammy Awards – announced that Best Cajun or Zydeco Album was one of 31 categories eliminated.

Created in 2008, the Cajun or Zydeco Grammy had been awarded to an Acadiana-based musician or group for all four years of its existence. Recipients included legendary local acts such as Terrance Simien, Chubby Carrier and Michael Doucet.

“Every year, we diligently examine our awards structure to develop an overall guiding vision and ensure that it remains a balanced and viable process,” said Recording Academy President and CEO Bill Portnow in a release.

“After careful and extensive review and analysis of all categories and fields, it was objectively determined that our Grammy categories be restructured to the continued competition and prestige of the highest and only peer-recognized award in music.”

For the 2012 Grammys, Cajun and zydeco musicians will be lumped into the Regional Roots Album category – a sort of hodgepodge grouping of distinctive domestic music.
Last Island Lawsuit Filed

HOUMA –– The fight for Last Island – a once-popular vacation spot more than 150 years ago – continues as the descendents of French settler Jean Voisin filed a lawsuit against the federal government in February 2011.

In the suit, Voisin’s descendants claim ownership of the island, which is now nothing more than a series of sandbars.

Last Island was once a 25-mile-long leisure destination for Louisiana’s pre-Civil War plantation aristocracy and wealthy New Orleans elites. The blossoming Gulf resort was leveled, though, in 1856 by a hurricane that killed 200 vacationers.

“This time we’re asking the federal government to acknowledge the fact that Last Island does belong to the Voisin family,” Jeanette Voisin told the Houma Courier. “We’re not asking them for money; we’re not asking them for anything else.”

Jeanette’s late husband, James Voisin Sr., a descendant of Jean Voisin and a relative of the hundreds of Voisins in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes, spent years researching the family’s claim to the island. The suit is filed on behalf of their son, James Voisin Jr., and a cousin, Charles Johnson.

New Restaurants Thrive in Cajun Country

LAFAYETTE –– According to a study done by The Nielsen Co. and published in  Restaurant Business magazine, Lafayette ranked 17th nationally for Best Places to Open a Restaurant. Lafayette ranked higher than any other Louisiana market.

In 2011, Lafayette has seen the opening of several prominent restaurants and eateries. Walk-On’s, a sports-themed restaurant founded by two former LSU basketball players, opened a Lafayette location on Kaliste Saloom Road in February. Trynd, an upscale downtown Lafayette cocktail lounge, welcomed New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton to its unveiling in late March. And this fall, chef Donald Link is scheduled to open a branch of his ever-popular Cochon restaurant in River Ranch. The original Cochon is located in New Orleans’ Warehouse District.

Jindal Honors Veterans

NEW IBERIA –– Gov. Bobby Jindal was on hand to honor close to 100 Acadiana-area veterans during the Louisiana Veterans Honor Medal Ceremony, which was held at the First Assembly of God church on March 30.

These ceremonies are held several times throughout the year in various Louisiana towns. Since 2009, the state’s Department of Veterans Affairs has handed out approximately 30,000 medals.

It was also announced at the New Iberia event that the Department of Veterans Affairs has launched a Support Our Veterans license plate. Proceeds from the sale of these special plates will go to various Louisiana-based veterans programs.

Halliburton to Build new Facility

LAFAYETTE –– Halliburton, one of the biggest names in oil field services, announced that it will build a major manufacturing facility in North Lafayette. Upon completion, the facility is expected to create 150 new jobs with an average salary of $53,000 per year. The facility will be located on Pont des Mouton near the Northpark Technology Center. Construction on the 200,000-square-foot facility is scheduled to begin in July 2011.

According to Louisiana Economic Development, the facility is also expected to create nearly 400 indirect jobs. Lafayette beat out in-state, out-of-state and international suitors to land the facility.

One of the largest employers in Lafayette, Halliburton has 60,000 workers worldwide in 80 different countries.

Belizaire Celebrates Anniversary with Re-release

NEW ORLEANS –– In honor of its 25th anniversary, the movie Belizaire the Cajun has been re-released into theaters across Louisiana.

Directed by Glen Pitre of Cut Off, the movie tells the story of Belizaire Breaux, a 19th-century village healer who becomes entangled in a violent conflict between  the Cajuns and the new Anglophone arrivals in the region.

The film premiered at the 1986 Cannes Film Festival in France and was praised by critics.

In April 2011, the movie was shown in Lafayette, Abbeville and Chalmette. For information on future showings, visit Pitre’s film production Web site at www.coteblanche.com.