News Briefs

Caillier resigns, a downtown music market and more


Embattled Opelousas Police Chief Larry Caillier, who was indicted earlier this year on more than 20 counts ranging from threatening the life of a police officer to malfeasance in office, submitted his resignation to the Louisiana Secretary of State's office on Monday, Nov. 14.

The surprise announcement was a dramatic turnaround for Caillier, who remained defiant after being indicted and pledged to stay on the job. "These charges are merely allegations," Caillier said in July. "Prosecutors can indict a ham sandwich if they want to."

Caillier's resignation is effective Nov. 30. Barring a plea bargain, he'll stand trial next year on charges related to his handling of the Opelousas Police Department's response to fights at a battle of the bands event. He faces separate charges concerning his handling of department funds. ' Scott Jordan


Loving Louisiana music is easy, but purchasing it locally has become more challenging in recent years. Since the shuttering of independent retailer Raccoon Records, Cajun and zydeco music can still be found at Louisiana Heritage and Gifts, but a large number of local artists and genres have struggled to find viable distribution outlets for their CDs and merchandise in Lafayette.

Using ArtWalk's success as a model, the Lafayette Music Alliance (composed of organizations such as Downtown Development Limited, Healthcare for Musicians, 307 Downtown and more) is starting a farmers-market style set-up at Nitetown on Jefferson Street. Local performers will have CDs available for purchase between 5-8 p.m. Nov. 26, and free wine and cheese will be served during the event. A number of performances are planned, with artists such as Michael Juan Nunez, Something for Jess and Steve Riley all confirmed to participate.

There is no charge for musicians to participate; artists interested in selling merchandise or performing at the market can contact Cynthia Simien at 837-9997. If the market goes well, organizers hope to do a monthly market coinciding with ArtWalk. ' Scott Jordan


A renovation of the City Club at River Ranch's Basin Bar & Grill, scheduled to begin in January, will give members the option of al fresco dining. "It's going to be a pretty significant renovation," says River Ranch developer Robert Daigle, an owner of the City Club.

In addition to offering outside seating, the casual dining restaurant will be expanded and converted to a "systems-based" concept used by top chains like Ruth's Chris, Outback Steakhouse and Houston's. "Essentially, you have very [defined] systems in place to ensure product consistency," Daigle says.

In other City Club news, Ghassan Harb, longtime food and beverage director, has left to pursue another opportunity with the Moody family, also a partner in the City Club. "It's my understanding the Moodys are looking at another restaurant concept," Daigle says. To implement the dining changes, the club is working with a team of consultants.

Because the City Club's health and wellness division is growing faster than expected, increasing 25 percent in the past year, to 3,000 memberships (8,000 members), its big banquet space is being downsized to make way for an expansion of this health facility. "We won't be doing the 500-person banquets that we could do in the big room," Daigle says.

All renovations should be complete by May 2006. ' Leslie Turk


The days of 24-hour drinking in Opelousas are over. At an Opelousas City Council meeting on Nov. 8, an ordinance was passed that prohibits the sale of alcohol from 2:30-a.m. to 6 a.m., effective Jan. 3, 2006. The previous 24-hour drinking ordinance was adopted in December 2003 at the prompting of Evangeline Downs Racino, and the Racino lost a subsequent fervent lobbying bid to keep the 24-hour alcohol sale law in effect.

In a letter obtained by The Independent, Trey Thibodeaux, director of community relations for the casino, wrote to the casino's vendors: "There is a witch hunt being started by a few clergymen in the community who have convinced our elected officials that serving alcohol throughout the night is wrong." The letter requested for individuals to contact Mayor Anna Simmons, write letters to the Opelousas City Council, and show up for the meeting on the issue. The new law was passed after councilmen voted 3-1 (with one abstention) to shut down early morning liquor sales. ' R. Reese Fuller


Cox Communications intends to hire Karmen Blanco, one of Gov. Kathleen Blanco's daughters, for public relations work in Lafayette.

The Advocate reported that The Louisiana Ethics Board approved Karmen Blanco's hiring because her job would not include business dealings with the state. Cox hopes that Blanco will "assist in its Lafayette community outreach efforts," according to The Advocate. However, it could put mother and daughter in an awkward position if Cox continues to spar with Lafayette Utilities System over LUS' fiber-to-the-home initiative, which Gov. Blanco has supported. ' Scott Jordan