Jul 302014
 
A black iron fence surrounds a green space at Constance and Harmony owned by Ruppert Kohlmaier. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

A black iron fence surrounds a green space at Constance and Harmony owned by Ruppert Kohlmaier. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Approximate area of green space highlighted. (map by Uptown Messenger via Google Maps)

Approximate area of green space highlighted. (map by Uptown Messenger via Google Maps)

From the front window of the woodworking shop just off Magazine Street his father bought in 1930, Ruppert Kohlmaier can see a little wedge-shaped green space he also owns, and what he sees is a problem. Over the years, he has been threatened with lawsuits by people who claimed to be injured playing under its shady oaks, and now that he wants to build on it, his neighbors are angry at him.

When the neighbors around Constance and Harmony see the same space, they see a beloved pocket park, a crucial buffer between the modest homes of the Irish Channel and the busy commercial activity on Magazine Street. If Kohlmaier replaces the open area with a large building, they say, it will mean the removal of one of the few remaining green spaces in a neighborhood already under heavy redevelopment pressure.

Those conflicting viewpoints — simmering for weeks since Kohlmaier closed off the property with a sturdy iron fence — came to a head Tuesday afternoon at an unusually contentious meeting of the city’s architectural review committee. Continue reading »

Jul 262014
 
Kara Morgan's partner Trey Bornmann, clasps hands on the steps of the Lyons Center in front of a sea of her friends and supporters during a second line celebration of her life on Saturday. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Kara Morgan’s partner Trey Bornmann, clasps hands on the steps of the Lyons Center in front of a sea of her friends and supporters during a second line celebration of her life on Saturday. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Kara Lynn Morgan (submitted photo)

Kara Morgan on the parade route in 2014. (photo courtesy of Cher Groves)

Kara Lynn Morgan died of melanoma July 15, the day before her 41st birthday, but the tireless neighborhood leader is far from finished with her battle against skin cancer.

She is still fighting it — she and her many allies in New Orleans and beyond — on the fields in the park of her beloved Irish Channel. Continue reading »

Jul 242014
 
Carrollton Station owner Michael Miller (left) explains his experience taking his bar smoke-free to a handful of non-smoking advocates, members of the media and smoker Elizabeth Stella (seated far right) on Wednesday afternoon. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Carrollton Station owner Michael Miller (left) explains his experience taking his bar smoke-free to a handful of non-smoking advocates, members of the media and smoker Elizabeth Stella (seated far right) on Wednesday afternoon. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

This week, City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell’s office is launching a series of events — call it a blitz, maybe a crusade — promoting her vision of smoke-free bars across New Orleans.

Wednesday’s event at Carrollton Station was intended to be a forum for bar owners to discuss the issue. Despite personal invitations from her staff to proprietors and public announcements in a variety of media outlets, however, the only person from the public to show up was a single, angry, ardent smoker.

Why the low turnout? Carrollton Station owner Michael Miller — who took the bar smoke-free when he bought it last year — said that many of his colleagues likely see the smoke-free trend as inevitable, and may even be privately looking forward to such a ban.

“The opposition we’ve gotten has not been from bar owners,” Anna Nguyen, a Cantrell staffer, agreed afterward. “It’s been from patrons.” Continue reading »

Jul 222014
 

An image of the official proclamation welcoming Operation Save America to New Orleans was circulated among the group's members online. (via Facebook.com)

An image of the official proclamation welcoming Operation Save America to New Orleans was circulated among the group’s members online. (via Facebook.com)

A proclamation from Mayor Mitch Landrieu commending Operation Save America for its service to New Orleans was issued this past weekend “in error,” city officials said Tuesday afternoon following reports that the group interrupted an Uptown church service on Sunday. Continue reading »

Jul 222014
 
An image of the official proclamation welcoming Operation Save America to New Orleans was circulated among the group's members online. (via Facebook.com)

An image of the official proclamation welcoming Operation Save America to New Orleans was circulated among the group’s members online. (via Facebook.com)

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu issued an official welcome this week to Operation Save America, an anti-abortion organization that interrupted an Uptown church’s prayer service with its protests on Sunday and had plans to parade the alleged remains of a fetus around Jackson Square in the French Quarter. Continue reading »

Jul 102014
 
The front door of the Priestley school building in west Carrollton. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The front door of the Priestley school building in west Carrollton. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Interest by a French-immersion charter school in buying the long-vacant Priestley school site in west-Carrollton has galvanized a group called the “P-Town Project” into seeking a Healing Center-style home for fresh food and social services there instead. Continue reading »

Jul 102014
 
Raymond Twickler Jr. holds an order pad in his metal shop on Cadiz Street.  (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Raymond Twickler Jr. holds an order pad in his metal shop on Cadiz Street. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Two buildings burned early Wednesday morning in the 800 block of Cadiz. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Two buildings burned early Wednesday morning in the 800 block of Cadiz. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Raymond Twickler Jr. traces his family’s metalworking business in New Orleans back more than a century, but the prospect of rebuilding his Cadiz Street shop after Wednesday morning’s fire next door has the 72-year-old wondering whether he should go on.

“At my age, I have my thoughts. That has to be taken into consideration,” Twickler said. “This is my first day back, and I’m assessing the damage.” Continue reading »

Jun 302014
 
Audubon Park's Shelter 11, near St. Charles Avenue, was recently renovated with private donations, and the park is asking the city to pay for similar renovations to the bathroom complexes on The Fly. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Audubon Park’s Shelter 11, near St. Charles Avenue, was recently renovated with private donations, and the park is asking the city to pay for similar renovations to the bathroom complexes on The Fly. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The city of New Orleans’ $12.5 million plan to repave the uppermost end of Magazine Street next year answers a major standing request from the Audubon Commission, but Audubon leaders are still requesting an additional $3.6 million in upgrades to the riverfront park known as “The Fly.” Continue reading »

Jun 272014
 

(map via NOPD)

(map via NOPD)

A stray bullet that hit a woman stepping off the St. Charles Avenue streetcar last weekend was fired during a gun battle between two groups on a side street where New Orleans’ tourist community and street violence often clash, police said this week.

The woman, who was visiting New Orleans from out-of-town with a group of people, had stepped off the St. Charles Avenue streetcar near Erato Street around 11:50 p.m. Saturday (June 21) when she was hit in the hip by a bullet, said NOPD Commander Bob Bardy.

“The victim was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” said NOPD Sgt. Daniel Scanlan. “She gets off the streetcar and she’s standing there, when a gun battle breaks out down the street.”

Police found 27 .45-caliber shell casings on Erato closer to Carondelet, Scanlan said. The only video recovered so far appears to show two groups of two people each shooting at one another, Scanlan said, and investigators are trying to get the footage enhanced so it will be more useful to investigators.

Sixth District police were called to another shooting not far away on Danneel Street about 20 minutes after the St. Charles Avenue incident, and originally considered the possibility that the gun battle had simply moved locations, Bardy said. Investigators have since determined that the Danneel Street shooting was unrelated, possibly tied to a dispute between two men over a woman, Bardy said.

Saturday’s shooting was latest outbreak of gun violence on St. Charles near Erato Street. In 2012, two people were injured in a shooting during a Mardi Gras parade at the same intersection. During parades, police regularly make gun arrests there as well — such as in 2012, in both the first weekend and second weekend of parades in 2013, and again in 2014.

Bardy said Saturday’s shooting shows the need for participation in the new Safecam NOLA program that will create an index of private surveillance cameras around the city. Theoretically, Bardy said, such a system would allow investigators in the Sixth District station to track the suspects after they ran off on Erato Street, possibly finding a better image of them on the way.

Anyone who can help with the investigation is urged to call Sixth District detectives at 658-6060, or to call CrimeStoppers at 822-1111 to leave an anonymous tip that could be eligible for a cash reward.

Jun 242014
 
The former John Dibert school building in Mid-City will be the temporary home of ENCORE Academy next year. (image via Google maps)

The former John Dibert school building in Mid-City will be the temporary home of ENCORE Academy next year. (image via Google maps)

ENCORE Academy’s move downtown will happen more gradually than expected, as the school will spend a year in the John Dibert building in Mid-City while renovations proceed at ENCORE’s eventual home at the Shaw building in the St. Roch neighborhood, officials announced Tuesday night.

“We’ll have the building to ourselves, and there’s plenty of room for all of our kids,” said ENCORE school leader Terri L. Smith. “It’s a great location for our families.” Continue reading »

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Jun 242014
 
The former St. Henry's rectory on General Pershing is slated to become classrooms for Ecole Bilingue. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The former St. Henry’s rectory on General Pershing is slated to become classrooms for Ecole Bilingue. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The rectory at St. Henry’s church that neighbors once feared would be demolished for a parking lot will receive a new lease on life as classrooms for Ecole Bilingue, according to a plan school leaders shared with the neighborhood Monday evening. Continue reading »

Jun 212014
 
Audubon Charter School's temporary campus in Gentilly. (UptownMessenger.com file photo)

Audubon Charter School’s temporary campus in Gentilly. (UptownMessenger.com file photo)

Audubon Charter School will likely have to pay for repairs to leaking roofs on the modular buildings at their Gentilly campus, because the return to their Broadway campus has been delayed for at least a year. Continue reading »

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Jun 192014
 
Halpern's Furnishing Store on St. Charles Avenue. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Halpern’s Furnishing Store on St. Charles Avenue. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

A veteran of prominent local kitchens is proposing a new restaurant based on a distillery producing vodka and other spirits from Louisiana cane sugar to be located on the current site of the Halpern’s furniture store on St. Charles Avenue, he told neighbors earlier this week. Continue reading »

Jun 172014
 
The future location of French Truck coffee on Magazine Street at the corner of Erato. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The future location of French Truck coffee on Magazine Street at the corner of Erato. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The French Truck coffee roasters will soon be setting up a walk-in shop in the Lower Garden District; the owners of Sylvain plan to start serving food at their new Barrel Proof bar across the street; and the Courtyard Brewery is now only about two months from opening as the corner of Magazine and Erato heats up over the summer, business owners said. Continue reading »

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Jun 162014
 
Banner outside of the king's house. (Zach Brien, UptownMessenger.com)

A banner promoting this year’s Uptown Swingers parade hangs outside of King Kevin Scott’s house on Jena Street. (Zach Brien, UptownMessenger.com)

Erone Hymel emerges from his mother's house on Loyola Avenue at the beginning of the Uptown Swingers second line on June 24, 2013. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Robert Morris)

Erone Hymel emerges from his mother’s house on Loyola Avenue at the beginning of the Uptown Swingers second line on June 24, 2013. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Robert Morris)

To celebrate their 10th anniversary second-line, the Uptown Swingers will parade this Sunday where they all originally started: on Freret Street.

“Some people said we couldn’t last 10 years, so we’ve got to show them,” said Uptown Swingers president Ezell Hines. “Showing is seeing and seeing is believing.” Continue reading »

Jun 122014
 
Barbara Griffin and John Wettermark of the International School of Louisiana examine roof damage on the third floor of the Priestley building. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Barbara Griffin and John Wettermark of the International School of Louisiana examine roof damage on the third floor of the Priestley building. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Leaders of several growing charter schools are weighing the potential of moving into vacant former campuses in the Carrollton area, the former Carrollton courthouse and the old Priestley school, as the Orleans Parish School Board led tours of both on Wednesday in preparation to sell them and other campuses around the city. Continue reading »

Jun 102014
 

James Johnson (via opcso.org)

Aggravated rape and other charges against a man accused of assaulting a woman in her Hickory Street house amid a rash of Carrollton-area home invasions were supported by the evidence collected at the time, a judge ruled Tuesday, allowing a case to proceed that could potentially jail the suspect for life.

In a hearing Tuesday, Magistrate Judge Harry Cantrell found that detectives had probable cause to charge James Johnson, 21, with aggravated rape, armed robbery, aggravated burglary and false imprisonment in connection with the April 9 attack on a woman in her Hickory Street home. Cantrell also upheld a separate set of charges of aggravated aggravated assault, armed robbery, sexual battery and simple kidnapping against Johnson in a April 1 attack on a woman outside her home on Cleveland Avenue in Mid-City, but the outcome of a third case against him — an April 4 home-invasion on Panola Street — remains pending. Continue reading »

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