Aug 152013
 

More than half of the streetlights along St. Charles Avenue are broken, burned out or missing, members of the residents’ association discovered after a recent count, according to a report by Bill Capo and our partners at WWL-TV. City officials say they are installing temporary lights, and that the streetlights will get new wiring at the end of the streetcar track construction project, Capo reports.

Aug 152013
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Although Wednesday’s announcement by the New Orleans Community Data Center showed several great signs in the New Orleans economy, it also pointed several great disparities that do not bode well for New Orleans’ future.

Yes, our economy is diversifying beyond tourism, we weathered the recession better than most cities, home sales have increased, our number of new entrepreneurs is high, and construction jobs are on the rise since Katrina (no kidding). All great stuff to be sure. Continue reading »

Aug 142013
 

The memorial to Officer Rodney Thomas in the Second District roll call room, where officers gather before each shift. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The memorial to Officer Rodney Thomas in the Second District roll call room, where officers gather before each shift. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

NOPD Officer Rodney Thomas

NOPD Officer Rodney Thomas

NOPD Second District Officer Rodney Thomas — who was killed last month in a hit-and-run crash on the interstate — had previously suffered heavy damage to his house during the flooding after Hurricane Katrina. Previously trained as an electrician, Thomas was doing all the renovations himself — work that his family does not know how they can finish with him gone, said Second District Commander Paul Noel.

“Not only was Rodney the sole breadwinner for his family, but now they have a house that’s unfinished,” Noel said. Continue reading »

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Aug 142013
 

Jean-Paul Villere

Dave Thomas brought us the drive thru.  The late founder of the fast food chain Wendy’s — beyond being the charismatic face of the company up until his death — in the fledgling days of the square-pattied empire devised a way for car-loving Americans across the country to stay put and nosh ever more quickly. (In-N-Out and Jack in the Box might stake earlier claims to the innovation, but find me one of those in the only metro area that matters.) It revolutionized commerce.  I can tell you from my days in a green apron, drive thru locations easily produce two to three times the revenue of locations without this 20th century gift.  As such, it employs more people and creates a better tax base too.  All good things, right?  Except when it comes to pollution and traffic congestion, those tick up as well.  Faster, reliable and more often: the American way, no?  Viagara, anyone? Continue reading »

Aug 132013
 
A cockatoo sits on the back patio of Victor Atkins' home in the 3400 block of Laurel Street on Tuesday afternoon. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

A cockatoo sits on the back patio of Victor Atkins’ home in the 3400 block of Laurel Street on Tuesday afternoon. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Living just a few blocks from the Mississippi River, Victor Atkins is used to hearing a lot of strange bird calls at his Laurel Street home. But Monday, one particularly piercing cry caught his attention — and his wife realized it was coming from their backyard.

“He has a big voice,” Atkins said. “His screech sounds like a pteradactyl.” Continue reading »

Aug 122013
 

The leadership of Lycée Français de la Nouvelle Orléans continued to evolve Monday night as the new school board decided to add a seventh member their predecessors had previously rejected, heard from a unified school community that no parents should be added to the board, met a new academic director and began setting concrete goals for the coming year. Continue reading »

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Aug 122013
 

Owen Courreges

Sometimes so much can turn on so little.  It was June 26, 2013, around 2 a.m.  Marshall Coulter, a 14-year-old boy with a history of criminal behavior, jumped the locked driveway gate of a home in Mid-City.  It was the home of a family: Merritt Landry, his pregnant wife and his young child.

Within the home, a dog barked.  Landry was awakened and went to see if there was an intruder.  He took a pistol with him.  Once outside, he reported seeing Coulter and asking him to freeze.  Coulter turned around to face him and appeared to be reaching for something on his hip.  Landry fired once, hitting Coulter in the head.  Coulter survived, but remains in critical condition. Continue reading »

Aug 122013
 

Crowds gather in front of The Company Burger on Freret St. as owner Adam Biderman hands out hamburgers for free Thursday, Sept. 3, 2012, while most of Uptown waits for power to come back. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Sabree Hill)

Freret Neighbors United president Andrew Amacker talks with residents during a crowded neighborhood meeting about a security-district proposal at Samuel J. Green Charter School. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Robert Morris)

When more than 100 Freret residents gathered in the Samuel J. Green Charter School cafeteria in March to discuss a proposal to use a property-tax fee to hire private security guards for the neighborhood, the meeting had every appearance of a textbook example of gentrification and its painful fallout. Two white people sat at a table marked “FOR,” two African-Americans sat at a table marked “AGAINST,” and a room full of other black residents argued bitterly against what they saw as the secrecy of the proposal, about their sense of disenfranchisement amid an influx of “new residents,” and about the rising costs of merely remaining in their homes.

Given the explosion of commercial growth on Freret Street — from only a single restaurant four years ago to 14 blocks of highly-lauded cuisine, new entertainment venues and businesses ranging from a dog-groomer to a craft-cocktail lounge — concerns about gentrification should be expected. But after that heated meeting in March, the proponents and opponents literally walked away from the school building together down the sidewalk, relying on relationships and respect forged over decades to find a middle ground — suggesting that, perhaps, something is different about what’s happening on Freret. Continue reading »

Aug 092013
 

Wanda Rouzan leads a procession down Magazine Street to the newly opened St. Katherine Drexel Prep. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Just a few short months ago, a group of Xavier Prep alumni promised students that, despite what seemed at the time like insurmountable obstacles, they would proudly return to campus as the Yellow Jackets in the fall.

Call it an act of faith, call it the “Miracle on Magazine Street,” but on Friday morning, with a procession around the block and an invocation from an archibishop, the founders of the new St. Katharine Drexel Prep made good on their promise.

“This could have been a funeral march,” said Dale Atkins. “This is not a funeral. This is not a wake. This is truly a celebration.” Continue reading »

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Aug 092013
 

Craig Giesecke

This marks my 78th and final column for Uptown Messenger as Kim and I pack up and move back toward the West Coast. She was raised in the San Diego area and we feel it’s time to tighten the circle, pulling family closer and seeking new opportunities. Besides, I am long overdue for a good, no-time-schedule road trip and the adventure it brings.

In a perfect world, we would have time and money for one last, great tour of New Orleans favorite haunts and to try to get around to a few spots we haven’t yet tried. But we don’t have much of either, so such an event will have to wait until we return, which will be as often as possible. Continue reading »

Aug 082013
 

The home in the 3000 block of Danneel where a 42-year-old man was fatally shot in what police believe may have been a robbery gone bad. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Jonathan Joseph (via NOPD)

Jamar Armstrong (via NOPD)

A man gunned down at a Danneel Street home was likely the victim of a robbery attempt gone wrong, investigators say, and they have now arrested two men on murder charges in the case. Continue reading »

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