East Baton Rouge Parish to Purchase Land to Prevent Flooding

In an ongoing effort to prevent flooding, East Baton Rouge is considering purchasing several hundred acres of land as a method of holding rain runoff, according to The Advocate.

Though the project is still in its early stages and doesn’t yet involve landowners, East Baton Rouge Parish has collected nearly $45 million to preserve 540 acres of floodplain areas across the city-parish. The funds were allocated from both federal hazard mitigation and the Louisiana Watershed Initiative, a 2016 recovery grant.

The aim of the city-parish to purchase the vast acres, including the 200 acres of low-lying swamp along Bayou Duplantier,  is partially to block the lands from being developed. If the goal of the purchases is to ultimately limit the flooding in the area, then new developments bringing the installation of new asphalt and concrete would undercut those efforts as these materials cause rain to run off and not be absorbed by the ground. Outside of merely sitting on these lands, another central aim is to create retention ponds on these acres, potentially easing ongoing flood problems.

Local area flooding has continued to be a hot topic for the state ever since more than 1,200 homes in East Baton Rouge Parish alone were inundated by the storms of mid-May. City-parish Transportation and Drainage Director Fred Raiford told reporters that weather patterns tend to indicate that severe rains are happening more and more frequently, and local leaders need to adapt as a result.

Raiford believes that these future detention and floodplain conservation areas can also help to reduce the risk of the downstream impacts that other proposed drainage improvements could have on surrounding parishes. To emphasize this point, he provided the example of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ $250 million project to clear and “de-snag” Bayou Fountain, Ward Creek, Jones Creek, and two other waterways in EBR Parish. Despite the scope of the project, the Corps attests that the plan will ultimately speed up the flow of these waterways and not cause negative effects on the parishes located downstream, namely Ascension and Iberville Parish.

In speaking of the impact of the recent storms, Raiford said, “some of these storms, you talk about 50-year storms or 100-year storms, well, they’re happening two times, three times a year, and that ain’t good. You’ve got to look at some ways to reduce the flood risk.”

Fact Sheet estimates indicate that conserving the land around Bayou Duplantier near Lee Drive would cost the city-parish $8.5 million and the Ward Creek conservation project, which would purchase 140 acres of floodplain southwest of Airline Highway and the adjacent sides of Highland Road, would cost $5.7 million.

Both purchases will be funded through Governor John Bel Edwards’ signature $1.2 billion Louisiana Watershed Initiative that was implemented as a result of the detrimental 2016 floods. Previously, the initiative used $5 million to dredge and ultimately improve the stormwater storage capacity of the University Lakes near Louisiana State University’s campus. The effort also improved the ecology of the area in addition to decreasing the likelihood of flooding.

Presently, the University Lakes empty the waters accumulated by rainfall over a dam into Bayou Duplantier and end up draining through the 200-acres conservation area that is currently being surveyed by the city-parish. Current plans exist to clear two miles of the bayou’s drainage channel.

Often required by development rules, these detention and retention ponds are vital to the conservation of local areas that are prone to flooding, and as a result, they have become regular fixtures of newer neighborhoods and commercial developments in not just Baton Rouge but across the state.

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Baton Rouge Students Earn Associate Degree & High School Diploma

Recently, an innovative new program has emerged in Baton Rouge Louisiana that involves local high schoolers earning an associate degree and a high school diploma at the same time, as reported by an article from The Advocate.

The program is similar to other early college programs that have emerged in Louisiana in recent years, though this particular Baton Rouge-based program, known as the East Baton Rouge Career and Technical Education Center’sEarly College Academy, is set to zero in on specific, high-demand, higher-paying job fields. The end result is to have students walk out of high school and right into a job, having gained the education and experience alongside their diploma requisites.

Earlier this year in March, a memorandum of understanding was signed for the new academy by officials from both the Baton Rouge Community College and the East Baton Rouge Parish School System. Though, the coronavirus outbreak and the surrounding closures of schools shut down the operations involved in opening the academy and getting students enrolled. However, officials from the two educational institutions recently reconvened to sign a proclamation that commemorates the partnership between the school system and the community college.

Though the program is beginning with a manageable, smaller size than intended, it’s allowing officials to observe what does and doesn’t work about the program from the onset, as four Baton Rouge teenagers from Broadmoor Senior High School are starting their associate’s degree alongside their diploma pathway this month.

These students started the year by taking both their high school and college-level classes strictly online, and they’re set to return to twice-a-week instruction in-person soon. The in-person instruction will have students taking their traditional classes at Broadmoor High and taking their field-specific college courses at the school system’s Career and Technical Education Center. These four students are the first ninth-graders to attend EBR CTEC, and they’re joining 155 juniors and seniors from other local high schools.

Chancellor of Baton Rouge Community College, Willie Smith told the Advocate just how graduates of the program can make an immediate impact upon exiting. He stated, “Could you imagine — we’ll have 18-year-olds now paying taxes — what that will do for our community?”

Similarly, Associate Superintendent Ben Necaise, who was filling in for Superintendent Leslie Brown addressed students at the ceremony directly by saying, “Congratulations for taking that plunge and being the first students to go through this amazing program. We can’t wait to see what you do.”

These four students from Broadmoor High entering the program are pursuing associate’s degrees in automotive as well as information technology with more degree pathways to be added in the future once the program opens up to more high schools.

So far this year, the students have been taking online IT courses as they await a return to in-person instruction that will allow them to gain experience that comes with full utilization of the hands-on lab equipment.

One student learned of the program just by viewing a promotional poster in the office while he was registering for school earlier this year. He viewed the program as a good opportunity to broaden his expertise, as he had already begun independently learning how to code.

The Executive Vice President of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, John Spain, traced the genesis of the program all the way back to 2008 when he and other civic leaders were trying to decrease the amount of teenagers dropping from local area high schools.

This program, once expanded, wil serve as a great companion to a high schooler’s education as it’ll propel them directly into the workforce just as they receive their diploma, making the students an active investor in their education as early as Freshman year.

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30 Interesting Facts About Louisiana

Located in the southeastern region of the United States, Louisiana was the 18th state to join the union by attaining statehood on April 30, 1812. Today, Louisiana is the 31st most extensive, or biggest, state as well as the 25th most populated state. It shares borders with three states, Texas, Arkansas, and Mississippi. The remainder of the state’s border, the southern border, is lined by the Gulf of Mexico. It is known to some by such monikers as the Sugar State, the Bayou State, the Creole State, the Child of the Mississippi, and the Pelican State. Louisiana consists of 64 parishes, the state’s specific version of counties. Its capital city is Baton Rouge. In the next 30 facts written by theFACTfile, we will learn more about Louisiana’s history, people, geography, economy, and more.

  1. The first inhabitants of what is now known as Louisiana were Native American tribes such as the Natchez, Bayagoula, and Chitamacha.
  2. The first natural gas field was found at a depth of 400 feet in Louisiana in the year 1823.
  3. Because of past fertility of its land, Louisiana was once known as one of the richest regions in America due to the indigo, sugar, and cotton industries making the white statesmen rich.
  4. Louisiana was a French colony between 1682 and 1763.
  5. France relinquished Louisiana and the Isle of Orleans to Spain in November 1762.
  6. René-Robert Cavelier names Louisiana in the mid 1600s in honor of King Louis XIV of France who reigned from 1643 to 1715.
  7. The food and culture of the state reflects the longevity of early French and Spanish settlers’ influence on the state.
  8. The Louisiana State Capitol is the tallest state capital in the U.S. Inaugurated on May 16, 1931, the capital building is 34 stories at a total of 450 feet tall. This tallest of capital buildings was built under the direction of former Governor Huey P. Long, who was assassinated in the building in September of 1935, four years after the building’s inauguration.
  9. The nickname “the Pelican State” comes from the numerous pelicans that once inhabited the state’s gulf coast. These pelicans indigenous to Louisiana have since gone extinct, and now, the pelicans found on Louisiana’s gulf coast are actually brown pelicans from Florida.
  10. Louisiana is one of the leaders in the country’s leading oil and gas producing states.
  11. In August 2005, the Category 3 hurricane, Hurricane Katrina, devastated some parts of Louisiana, particularly the 9th ward of New Orleans. The damage dealt by the storm was underestimated as the possibility of levees breaking was not taken into account. Katrina eroded 73 square miles of Louisiana coastland, and caused the death of an estimated 1,500 Louisiana citizens. It resulted in more than $100 billion in damages. Louisiana hurricane season lasts from June through November each year.
  12. During its first centennial in 1912, Louisiana adopted its official flag depicting a pelican mother feeding her own skin to her three chicks with the below inscription saying, “Union Justice Confidence” in front of a deep blue background.
  13. The Mississippi River both runs through and borders the state.
  14. The state has been governed under 10 different flags since the Spanish conquistador, Hernando de Soto, landed in 1541.
  15. In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson made the Louisiana Purchase, buying 530,000,000 acres of territory in North America for $15 million from Napoleon Bonaparte of France. This purchase effectively doubled the size of the United States at the time.
  16. The original Louisiana Purchase territory is now split into 13 states.
  17. Louisiana boasts no official language. English, French, Spanish, and Vietnamese are among the most common spoken languages in the state.
  18. It is one of the wettest states in the United States.
  19. Along with being the capital, Baton Rouge is an important inland port due to its location along the Mississippi River.
  20. Louisiana leads the U.S. in crawfish and shrimp production.
  21. This is a mostly flat state. The highest point, Driskill Mountain, is 535 feet, or 163 meters above sea level. The lowest point in the state is New Orleans at 8 feet, or 2.5 meters below sea level.
  22. Louisiana land can be divided into three types of regions: lowlands, hills, and terraces.
  23. Mardi Gras, or “Fat Tuesday” is a big festival boasting numerous parades that takes place the day before Ash Wednesday. The Mardi Gras festival has been held in New Orleans since 1838.
  24. Louisiana was home to important contributions in the US space exploration program, such as the production of the C-5 boosters used in the Apollo moon landing.
  25. This is the only state to have political subdivisions called parishes rather than counties like the other 49 states. Jefferson Parish is the largest population-wise, and Cameron Parish is the largest land area-wise. There are 64 parishes total.
  26. LA state license plates have had the following phrases appear on them: “Bayou State”, “World’s Fair”, and “Sportsman’s Paradise.”
  27. The capitals of Louisiana have been as follows: New Orleans from 1812-1830, Donaldsville from 1830-1831, New Orleans from 1831-1849, Baton Rouge from 1849-1862, New Orleans from 1862-1882, and finally, Baton Rouge since 1882.
  28. The geographic center of Louisiana is located 3 miles southeast of Marksville in Avoyelles Parish. The whole state is 380 miles long and 130 miles wide.
  29. Coincidentally, the state’s shape resembles the capital letter “L” or a boot.
  30. Louisiana is a major producer of corn and soybeans.

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