News Briefs

Sen. Don Carvins bid for mayor, Richard LeBouef's cookin', Wilbert Rideau's new legal troubles and more ...


Longtime state Sen. Don Cravins expects to soon finalize a deal on a home in the heart of Opelousas and will begin his campaign to become mayor of the city by the fall. "I actually campaign every day," he says. "But I'll officially start then." Cravins supported current Opelousas Mayor Anna Simmons when she was elected in 2002 but now says he can do a better job than Simmons, who plans to run for re-election next year. Cravins says his key issue in the race will be rebuilding infrastructure, paving roads and giving the city a general cleanup. "There's a lot of little things that can be done almost immediately that won't take a whole lot of money that I think could make a tremendous impact psychologically," he says. He also wants to work toward revitalizing the downtown area, instituting a housing rehabilitation program and starting a business incubator similar to the Enterprise Center of Louisiana in Carencro. Cravins was first elected state senator in 1992, and term limits will force him out of his current office in 2008. City elections for Opelousas are scheduled for fall 2006, when both Simmons and embattled Police Chief Larry Caillier will be up for re-election. Caillier is facing charges of mishandling federal funds. Cravins says he doesn't anticipate Caillier's situation to spill over into the mayor's race. "I think most people are ready to be done with it one way or another." ' NS


On April 23, Cajun musician and Kaplan native Richard LeBouef will begin airing an independently produced weekly cooking and musical television program called Richard LeBouef's Good Time Kitchen. The 30-minute program will air on Saturday mornings on KLFY TV10 and will feature LeBouef as the host as well as musical guests. LeBouef says he hopes to create a cooking show that not only features food, but also local music and the style of humor that made Justin Wilson a household name. ' RRF


On Jan. 12, Wilbert Rideau was released after serving 44 years in the Louisiana State Penitentiary for the 1961 murder of Julia Ferguson ("Rideau's Release," Jan. 26). He was set free after a new trial and jury gave him a 21-year sentence for manslaughter, effectively releasing him for time already served. But the Lake Charles American Press reported last week that Rideau's legal woes aren't over. Judge David Ritchie ordered Rideau to pay $126,000 in court costs for his fourth trial for the crime. The judge stated that he expected Rideau to come into "an anticipated windfall of money" from a lucrative writing career. One of Rideau's defense attorneys, public defender Ron Ware, stated, "It's unprecedented for an indigent [defendant] who has served that much time to be ordered to pay court costs. The trial is over, the verdict is in, and it is time to let it go and move on." Rideau's attorneys have until April 15 to object to the order. ' RRF


Two employees of the Lafayette Department of Traffic and Transportation, Rhagan Thomas and Rachel Wills, have been charged with felony theft for stealing at least $22,000 in coins from Lafayette parking meters. The two were believed to have taken the coins to a local coin-exchange machine where they converted their stolen coins into cash. The Advocate reported that the two employees were part of a larger investigation of at least seven people in consolidated government that had been investigated or arrested for theft and forgery. According to The Advocate, Chief Administrative Officer Dee Stanley stated: "We have a missing bulldozer, for crying out loud ' rolled off a job site two years ago. If any employee knows where our bulldozer is, we'd like to know." ' RRF


Wearing his signature red clogs, Houma resident Daniel Breaux was a fixture at Lafayette festivals and nightclubs for more than 20 years. Breaux danced regularly at Blue Moon Saloon and Festival International, and was a gentle and fun-loving spirit who rarely missed a BeauSoleil performance ("Red Clogs and Angel Wings," May 12). When Breaux was murdered in a botched robbery attempt by four teenagers last May 1 after attending the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, the Acadiana arts community went into mourning.

Last week, The Times-Picayune reported that a New Orleans jury convicted 15-year-old John Duncan of Breaux's murder. Since Duncan is a juvenile, he will be jailed in an adult prison until he is 31 years old. Sixteen-year-old Kevin Atkins testified against Duncan and received a five-year sentence for attempted armed robbery. Two more teenagers, Cedric Curtis and Jerone Walls, await trial on second-degree murder charges. ' SJ


The family clothing store Goody's is gobbling up 28,000 square feet in the Ambassador Row shopping center across from the Mall of Acadiana. The remaining portion of the 52,000-square-foot spot, which housed Hobby Lobby before it relocated to the old Target store in the Acadiana Square shopping center, is not yet leased. "We're currently working a deal," says Debbie Thibodeaux, regional leasing director for Miami-based Equity One, which owns the center.

An extensive renovation to both the façade and interior are under way, with Goody's planning a mid-May opening. The Knoxville, Tenn.-based store, founded and now run by the third generation of the Goodfriend family, offers clothing and accessories from brands like Hanes, Healthtex, Lee, Levis, Mudd, Reebok, Keds and Steve Madden.

Considered a moderately priced "junior department store," Goody's has more than 350 locations in 20 states. ' LT


The onslaught of chain restaurants in Lafayette hasn't dampened the Cart family's entrepreneurial spirit. "We're a dying breed," says Lynda Cart, who last week launched Boulevard Grille in the Oil Center Gardens. Her husband, Bruce, and son Jeffrey are partners. Lynda is as upbeat as she was nine years ago, when this same trio opened Antoni's Italian Café, just a stone's throw from the new Tex-Mex concept.

This time, though, 28-year-old Jeffrey is in charge. "He has us for support," Lynda says. "That's the nice thing about having our businesses so close together."

In his first week, Jeffrey is seeing a lot of familiar faces from the successful Antoni's. "They've been coming in to check it out," he says. The grill also will cater to the downtown lunch crowd and hopes to garner significant business from medical professionals at nearby Lafayette General.

Interior designer Judy Leggett (Lynda's sister) has just moved to Lafayette from Dallas and created the restaurant interior's contemporary/cosmopolitan atmosphere, which incorporates Jeffrey's photography. Leggett also assisted on the Antoni's décor.

Boulevard Grille, a combination of Tex-Mex and traditional American fare (meat for the half-pound burgers is ground fresh everyday), is open Monday through Saturday, for lunch only. The new restaurant has taken over the spot that most recently housed the Lebanese eatery Essie's. ' LT