5) "Family Gras" in Jefferson, Dogs in the Quarter
Jefferson Parish will host its annual "Family Gras" celebration this weekend, from Feb. 13-15 in Metairie. The parish created the event three years ago as a venue for family-oriented entertainment during Carnival season. The free event is held on the neutral ground of Veterans Memorial Boulevard near Lakeside Shopping Center. For details, see www.familygras.com. Meanwhile, the Mystic Krewe of the Barkus parades through the French Quarter on Feb. 15, featuring costumed canines and their owners. The parade begins at 2 p.m. at Armstrong Park. For more information, go to www.barkus.org.
4) Honoring Civil Rights Legacy
A 19th century milestone in U.S. civil rights will be commemorated in New Orleans on Thursday, Feb. 12, with the unveiling an historical marker at the site of Homer Plessy’s arrest in 1892. His case eventually led to a Supreme Court decision upholding the constitutionality of racial segregation under the doctrine of "separate but equal." Thursday’s event will also mark the beginning of the Plessy and Ferguson Foundation for Education, Preservation and Outreach, which will teach civil rights history. The event begins at 2 p.m. at the corner of Press and Royal streets.

3) Jefferson Siblings Headed to Trial
Two siblings of former Congressman William Jefferson are scheduled to stand trial this week on federal fraud charges. Mose Jefferson and Betty Jefferson are accused of taking money from nonprofit groups they controlled for their own use. The charities were promoted as serving the needs of low-income black residents in Central City, but prosecutors say the brother and sister instead took more than $600,000 from the groups for themselves. Their trial has been postponed several times. Betty Jefferson is the city’s Fourth District tax assessor. Mose Jefferson has also been charged in a second case in which the government has accused him of bribing former Orleans Parish School Board President Ellenese Brooks-Simms.

2) Downtown Trash Troubles
The city’s recent trash troubles have prompted downtown and French Quarter business groups to host a "Trash Fair" on Wednesday, Feb. 11, to help residents sort out the mess. Last week, the Nagin administration told the contractor responsible for trash pick-up in the CBD and French Quarter to end service to thousands of addresses, especially businesses and multi-unit properties which must contract for their own waste disposal. The abrupt end of service caught many off guard, and trash quickly accumulated in the city’s main tourist district. The administration soon backed off, however, and has given those property owners until March 15 to hire their own provider. The Trash Fair will be held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m .at the Hilton St. Charles, 333 St. Charles Ave. Local waste collection companies will be on hand. For more information, go to www.neworleansdowntown.com.

1) Meeting on Huge Corps Flood Project 
The Army Corps of Engineers plans to hold a joint public hearing with the Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday Feb. 11 regarding its plans for a massive new hurricane protection program on the West Bank. The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway West Closure Complex will eventually involve about 26 miles of levees and floodwalls serving as the first line of defense against storm surge on the West Bank. More than $500 million has been budgeted for the first phase of the work, which will include a navigable floodgate and pumping station on Intracoastal Waterway. The Corps and EPA will collect public input during the meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. at the Corps’ district offices at 7400 Leake Ave. in New Orleans.


Ian McNulty is a freelance writer in New Orleans and contributing writer for New Orleans Magazine. Reach him at imcnulty@cox.net.