A Quarterly Compendium of What’s Hot & What’s Not in Louisiana

Speeding school principal. After 12 years behind the desk, Kim Crosby retired as principal of Slidell Junior High School to become a professional race car driver. Boudreaux’s Butt Paste will sponsor Crosby in the upcoming 35-race NASCAR Busch Nextel series. Crosby is only the third woman to be sponsored in the series.
High-flying Husker. Kristi Esposito, a 2003 graduate of Slidell High School and a member of the University of Nebraska Huskers women’s gymnastics team, captured the all-around title while competing in a January meet at the University of Michigan with a total score of 39.075.
Reeling in movie-tax benefits. Louisiana’s motion-picture tax-credit program offers a benefit to Louisiana taxpayers. When movie-makers earn transferable state-tax credits, they can sell them at a discount to brokers. The brokers in turn sell them to people who use them to pay Louisiana state taxes. Result: about 15 percent savings off a state-tax bill.
Up in lights. “A theater without a marquee is like a stadium without a scoreboard,” says Donna Gay Anderson, director of Southeastern Louisiana University’s Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts in Hammond. The computerized, lighted marquee will cost around $75,000. A fundraising drive is underway.
Cupola twins again. Two Louisiana State Museum buildings in New Orleans – the Cabildo and Presbytere – are almost identical, with one big difference. The Cabildo has a cupola atop its roof, but the Presbytere has had none for almost a century. That will be changed when the missing cupola (probably dislodged by a hurricane) will be replaced this year as part of a $2 million repair project.
Take a bow for Dow. Mary Champagne, a employee at the St. Charles Operations facility of the Dow Chemical Co. in Hahnville for more than 23 years, has been named a recipient of the company’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Recognition Award for 2005. The award is presented for a commitment to encouraging and promoting racial harmony and unity within the workplace and community.
Teacher tributes. Pam Anzalone received a $2,500 award when she was named “most inspirational teacher” by the Lafayette Education Foundation. Anzalone teaches at Ernest Gallet Elementary. Other winners included Gale Grossie Lear of The Children’s Shelter, Christine Angelle of St. Genevieve Middle School and Ellen Bayless of Northside High School. LEF awarded $22,000 to the 16 finalists; 250 teachers had been nominated.
Home-schooled for safety. Shreveport resident Caleb Gilbert, 9, successfully performed the Heimlich maneuver on his 4-year-old cousin Ericka Daughtery, who was choking on a piece of candy, and saved the child’s life. When Caleb was 6, his mother, Andrea Gilbert, took a CPR course and practiced at home – fortunately Caleb remembered what she did.
Bitter with the sweet. The Jeanerette Sugar Co.’s sugar mill took in its last load of sugar cane at the end of the 2004 grinding season. Iberia Sugar Cooperative’s mill in New Iberia has also closed. That leaves two operating sugar mills in Iberia Parish – the state’s top sugar-cane producer – and only 13 in the state. Bad weather was a factor in the falling cane tonnage figures, which brought about the Jeanerette closure.
Top of the charts. According to a recent report from the nonprofit organization Environmental Defense, Louisiana was among the top three states for the amount of recognized cancer-causing material released by industry in 2002. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2002 Toxic Release Inventory provided the most recent statistics available. •