The $1.8 million park project anchoring St. Roch Avenue should wrap before summer, according to city officials who announced the plans from outside the park gates this afternoon. Construction on the park's pool, however, will wait as the city and park planners gather more funding — the city already has $400,000 from FEMA dedicated to restoring the existing pool. A new indoor pool is unlikely and would cost millions, officials said.
Vincent Smith, the city's director of capital projects, said the park should open in time for NORD's 2013 summer programming. "Right now we've just got the $400,000," he said. "It's going to be a process to raise additional funding." NORD director Vic Richard added, "If we get the park up June 1, the community will be proud of it."
The park (third oldest in the city) and Harold Sampson playground sits between the St. Roch Community Church and the St. Roch Cemetery. The park is currently bare and stripped of grass and amenities. Updates will include a baseball field and resurfaced basketball court, with repairs to the fences and gates, restroom facilities and concession stand. District C city councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer said that the neighborhood "has not seen a lot of investment historically," but thanked the St. Roch Neighborhood Improvement Association and neighbors for driving interest in its revitalization. The park project will anchor the neutral ground — on its other end, the St. Roch Market, which is scheduled to open in March. The market links the park via a neutral ground park space with benches and "art walk" — which is roughly completed.
District E City Councilman Jon Johnson is in federal court this morning and will plead guilty on charges of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government in connection with his nonprofit the Ninth Ward Housing Development Corporation.
The bill of information says from 2006 to 2008, Johnson misused federal FEMA dollars earmarked for the nonprofit to fund his 2007 state senate campaign.
Find a copy of the bill of information with Johnson's charges here. We'll have more later this morning.UPDATE: Johnson's statement, in which he admits guilt, under the jump. He will be sentenced Oct. 25.
Like the Broad bus route, the Galvez bus route is pretty long and goes from the edge of Uptown to the 9th Ward, passing through the 6th, 7th and 8th Wards. Another commonality is that when riding along these routes, you'll see that we are still nowhere near being finished with rebuilding after almost seven years. Is it government corruption? Laziness? Lack of resources? Gentrification? Many 6th Ward residents and shopkeepers believe it's a combination of them all, especially one woman I met who had a lot to say...
Hide your college-age children: "sissy bounce" is here to corrupt them — at least according to Christwire, the satirical website that's sort of what The Onion would be if written by Rick Santorum. (Other stories on the site include "4 Satanic and Blood Sex Driven Things Your Daughter Will Do at Coachella" and "Is My Teen Weird? 20 Terrifying New Youth Trends.")
In its "expose" of bounce music (which name-checks Vockah Redu, Sissy Nobby, Big Freedia and Katey Red), Christwire warns:
The sissy show began in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina when President Bush ordered the rescue of thousands of African-Americans caught off guard by the Biblical storm. In the well-stocked camps that FEMA generously provided, many urban youths took advantage of their newfound luxury to play around with loud music and interracial dancing. The result was an unpredictable and shocking creation that immediately was condemned as immoral. A transvestite named “Big Freddy” soon left the camps and copyrighted the act, selling it to ghetto rap clubs across the country and reaping millions.
Despite the warnings, “Sissy Dancing” grew in popularity and, through the efforts of black affirmative action students, made the transition over to the white population on college campuses.
Ouch. Not surprisingly, in our post-Derbyshire world, more than a few commenters missed the joke or just plain didn't like it. To read the whole thing in its R-rated, possibly not-safe-for-work glory, go here, and remember: "They could care less how nice these girls are or if they’re studying art history."
As we prepare for National Waffle Week, let's pass the mic to FEMA director Craig Fugate, ladies and gentleman: "If you get there and the Waffle House is closed? ... That's really bad. That's where you go to work."
The ol' Waffle House Index, developed by Dr. Hashbrowns von Larrythecableguy, is a gauge used by the disaster response agency following hurricane landfall in the U.S. to determine its impact on a given area.
... and here's how it works!
Green means the restaurant is serving a full menu, a signal that damage in an area is limited and the lights are on. Yellow means a limited menu, indicating power from a generator, at best, and low food supplies. Red means the restaurant is closed, a sign of severe damage in the area or unsafe conditions.
During Hurricane Irene, Waffle House lost power to 22 restaurants in North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Delaware, according to the WSJ. But in Weldon, N.C. that weekend, the fryers were up and running. Even the diners in Joplin, Mo., stayed open after the devastating tornadoes. Following Katrina, the company lost seven of its restaurants and 100 more were shut down — Waffle House jumped into the disaster recovery biz and invested in generators and a mobile command center (named "EM-50" after the Stripes' "urban assault vehicle").
FEMA explains: "The Waffle House test doesn’t just tell us how quickly a business might rebound — it also tells us how the larger community is faring. The sooner restaurants, grocery and corner stores, or banks can re-open, the sooner local economies will start generating revenue again — signaling a stronger recovery for that community. The success of the private sector in preparing for and weathering disasters is essential to a community’s ability to recover in the long run."
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