News Briefs

"No Party, Party" for Durel, Sir Barry Ancelet and more


Almost a year before being up for re-election, Republican City-Parish President Joey Durel is amassing a war chest with bipartisan support from some heavyweight politicians and business leaders. The latest evidence of Durel's strong backing is the "No Party, Party" fund-raiser Dec. 14, hosted by local attorney and Lafayette Parish Democratic Executive Committee member Glenn Armentor. The $250-per-couple Christmas party lists a co-host committee of more than 100, including Republican party luminaries like Sen. David Vitter and Rep. Bobby Jindal. Several prominent local Democrats, including retired appeals court judge Ned Doucet and former U.S. Attorney/Louisiana Democratic state party Chairman Mike Skinner, are also among the co-hosts.

In a letter announcing the fund-raiser, Armentor writes a glowing endorsement of Durel, whom he says exhibits rare leadership skills. Before proclaiming that Durel "may well be the best mayor our town has had," Armentor's letter begins with an unattributed quote about "the essence of leadership" which states, "in the end, leaders are much like eagles â?¦ they don't flock, you find them one at a time."

Durel will probably spend part of the fund-raiser further clarifying his recent controversial comments regarding legislative pork and boondoggles; he told The Daily Advertiser local legislators need to support pet projects for legislators in other parts of the state in order to get Lafayette projects approved. "They're not going to get money for Lafayette unless they vote for boondoggles elsewhere," he said. "I've been telling some of our very conservative friends that they're going to have to be prepared to defend our delegation when they vote for boondoggle[s]."

Durel fired back at critics of his quotes in a subsequent letter to the editor in The Advertiser. "While I might now use a different choice of words, those who know me realize I care much more about the people of Lafayette than about the mechanics of politics," Durel wrote. "My statement was that we should perhaps be less critical of legislators when they vote for projects in other parts of the state if their vote might win support for projects here. That honest, realistic observation has met with criticism because I referred to such projects as perceived 'boondoggles.' But, it is naive to pretend legislators are not placed in such situations. ... We cannot expect to receive the funding we hope for unless we support worthwhile projects outside of Lafayette (even those perceived by others as pork or boondoggles). It is a system that has been in place for as long as politics has existed. It is not talked about because, as I have learned, speaking about it honestly can bring criticism.

"We can only change this flawed system by asking our public officials to be more accountable for projects funded and the funding process," Durel concluded. "Some politicians might not like it, but the first step to change is being honest about how the system works." ' Scott Jordan & Nathan Stubbs


United Way of Acadiana may soon have a permanent home in the old Schilling Distributing Co. headquarters, thanks to the generosity of community leaders and businesses. The organization's been housed in the facility since June of last year, and its capital campaign began this August with the ultimate goal of acquiring the buildings at 215 E. Pinhook Road for $2.4 million. United Way hopes to create a multi-tenant nonprofit center that will allow local organizations to be housed on one campus and share resources, ideas, and volunteers.

So far, more than $800,000 in donations and pledges has been raised toward the effort, including $100,000 from Stone Energy and $50,000 from Our Lady of Lourdes, in addition to several $25,000 donations from local companies.

The property, vacated by Schilling in late 2003 when the company moved to its $10 million Moss Street headquarters, includes an office building and five warehouses that will also provide adequate storage for supplies for future disaster response.

While it is a separate fund raising effort, United Way of Acadiana's capital campaign coincides with the organization's annual campaign, which supports and helps fund 60 programs throughout Acadiana. The 2006 annual campaign closes Dec. 31.

To assist United Way in securing its new home, or to give to annual campaign, call 233-8302 or visit ' Leslie Turk


On Tuesday, Nov. 28, Barry Jean Ancelet joined the ranks of William Faulkner, David Bowie, Ella Fitzgerald, Jackson Pollock and Memphis Slim.

The notable French professor and Cajun folklorist was knighted with the title of Chevalier into Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French ambassador to the United States. The honor recognizes individuals who have made contributions to the enrichment of the French culture's arts and literature.

Ancelet is the author of several books on Cajun and Creole culture, a Cajun French poet, a professor of modern languages at UL Lafayette, the head of the university's folklore studies department, co-founder of the 1974 Tribute to Cajun Music (which later became the annual Festivals Acadiens festival), and the host of the weekly live radio broadcast Rendez-vous des Cajuns from The Liberty Theater in Eunice.

Ancelet says he's touched and honored to receive the distinction. "I feel like this is an honor I share with all of the storytellers and singers and all of the other people I've worked with over the years," he says. "I find that there's a little bit of irony in knighting someone who has spent a whole lifetime trying to honor the culture of supposedly ordinary people. That's a delicious irony." ' R. Reese Fuller


Several local football teams have only one hurdle to overcome on their way to the LHSAA state championship in the Crescent City. And while they might not immediately comprehend the significance of the return to the Superdome as much as the Saints, the NFL team's fans and supporters across the country did Sept. 25, they will no doubt one day appreciate what football ' from high school to college and professional ' has meant as a symbol of hope for the city's rebirth; bringing back tradition and flavor in any form are critical ingredients to returning the city to its greatness.

After blowing out Northside 56-8, STM plays undefeated Shaw on the road in Class 4A semifinals. In Class 5A, Acadiana crushed St. Paul 40-7 and is preparing to host Catholic High of Baton Rouge, while Sulphur travels to play Rummel. Notre Dame hosts Lutcher in Class 3A after its decisive 39-14 victory over rival Teurlings Catholic.

It's very likely the Acadiana area will be well-represented in New Orleans Dec. 8-9, where lasting high school memories will once again be created for scores of young students. ' LT


Persistence paid off for Lafayette artist Tony Bernard. After entering the Louisiana Duck Stamp Competition five years in a row and placing third and second several times, Bernard's picture of a chocolate Labrador retriever against a stormy blue sky with mallards banking into the headwinds has won first place. The 19th anniversary 2007-08 stamp, featuring Bernard's work, is expected to go on sale June 1, 2007.

The Louisiana Waterfowl Conservation Stamp program was established in 1988 to generate revenue for conservation and enhancement of state wetlands that benefit Louisiana's ducks and geese. This program has generated more than $9 million for wetland conservation in Louisiana since 1989, with over $500,000 from last year's competition alone. Money from this fund helps repair levees and perform other wetland management practices on the state's wildlife management areas. ' Mary Tutwiler


Gary Hayman is officially pulling the plug on his online newsletter for Cajun and zydeco enthusiasts ' ZydeE-Zine ' although the last issue was published Sept. 8. In an e-mail sent to his subscribers last Friday, Hayman says some portions of his larger ZydeE-Magic Web site will continue.

"What started out, way back in 1993, as just a local Cajun/Zydeco schedule listing for the Washington D.C. area â?¦ quickly mushroomed into a separate WEB site of my own with almost 600 individual WEB pages and a popular large FREE e-magazine [The ZydE-Zine] with international appeal," wrote Hayman. "I have taken on these projects as a volunteer and public service effort throughout these many years â?¦ I am moving on now to some other interesting objectives. I will also be spending more time with volunteer public service with other local, national and international endeavors and will be involved in another national WEB site project of high interest ' but of a different theme."

Thankfully, The Patsy Report, an online directory hosted by Hayman of Cajun and zydeco events throughout greater Lafayette, will continue. ' R. Reese Fuller


Gov. Kathleen Blanco is on the lookout for a good poet. That's because the state's first ever laureate, Brenda Marie Osbey, steps down next year, and there's no one in line to receive the literary crown.

The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities is overseeing the selection process and nominees are welcome ' no matter your talent. "A vast majority of the people being considered are serious, but then there are people that, well, let's just say they're legends in they're own minds," says Dr. Michael Sartisky, chairman of the selection committee. Competition for the title is stiff, he adds, but if you do manage to muster enough votes, a $1,000 stipend is given to every Louisiana poet laureate. When the Legislature created the position a few years ago, Sartisky says he wrote a $10,000 stipend into the legislation, but lawmakers balked and reduced the amount. The decision was questionable, he says, and lawmakers should have ponied up more funds for art's sake. "Hey, you're talking about the best poet in state," Sartisky says.

The deadline for nominations is Dec. 8. For more, go to ' Jeremy Alford


Lafayette's Graham Group is developing a year-long campaign for the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development aimed at increasing driver safety and decreasing the number of traffic-related fatalities in Louisiana. Working with the DOTD's communications team, the local ad agency will handle strategic planning and placement of a $500,000 media budget statewide to educate Louisiana drivers on dangerous driving practices and to encourage Louisianians to drive safer.

The statewide, public-safety-announcement campaign, funded by federal safety funds, focuses on driver inattention, speeding, work-zone safety, pedestrian safety, following too closely and the "Move It" law, which requires drivers to clear the road of wrecks that do not involve injuries. ' LT


According to Production Weekly, part-time New Iberia resident and bestselling crime novelist James Lee Burke's 1993 novel In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead will be adapted into a movie, with pre-production in Louisiana beginning within the month. The film centers on Cajun detective Dave Robicheaux, previously played by Alec Baldwin in Heaven's Prisoners. French filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier is slated to begin production in March.

Tavernier has directed 32 movies and written scripts for 28 films, most notably the 1986 film 'Round Midnight. Burke's In The Electric Mist with Confederate Dead is his third novel to be adapted for the screen. The 1998 TV version of Two for Texas was produced by TNT and starred Kris Kristofferson and Tom Skerrit; and 1996's Heaven's Prisoners starred Baldwin, Terri Hatcher, Kelly Lynch, Eric Roberts and Mary Stewart Masterson. ' RRF


Rather than competing for business, Lafayette's museums are teaming up. They recently began offering a simple gift idea ' 9 museums for $9. The package deal offers one-time admission to each of Lafayette's nine museums and is a 78 percent discount off normal prices. The museums include the Acadian Cultural Center, Acadian Village, Acadiana Center for the Arts, Alexandre Mouton House, Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, Children's Museum of Acadiana, Lafayette Natural History Museum and Planetarium, University Art Museum and Vermilionville.

Tickets can be purchased at the Lafayette Visitor's Center on the Evangeline Thruway or at any of the participating museums except the Acadian Cultural Center. For more info, call the Lafayette Conventions and Visitors Center at 232-3737. ' NS