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Bouquets & Brickbats 

They get what they deserve

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Priscilla Lawrence,

executive director of The Historic New Orleans Collection (HNOC), has been honored with a 2009 Women of Excellence Award by the Louisiana Legislative Women's Caucus Foundation. Lawrence has served as the director of HNOC for the past 10 years. Under her leadership, the nonprofit has increased its staff, physical space, and acquisitions, resulting in innovative exhibitions and programming dedicated to the study and preservation of the history and culture of New Orleans.



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Irma Thomas,

"New Orleans Queen of Soul" and music legend, has been inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame. Thomas was born in Ponchatoula and from a young age sang in churches, schools and talent shows. Later, she got her big break when New Orleans bandleader Tommy Ridgley discovered her while she was working as a waitress at the Pimlico Club. Thomas went on to record a number of R&B hits. She won a Grammy for her 2007 CD After the Rain. She also is a member of the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.



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Brandi Pembrook,

a junior at Metairie's Haynes Academy for Advanced Studies, has been selected as the Louisiana winner in the United States Institute of Peace's National Peace Essay Contest. Pembrook wrote "Crimes Against Humanity in Darfur and Zimbabwe (Striving for Change)," describing conditions in those African nations. For her efforts, she will receive $1,000 and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to take part in a five-day seminar hosted by USIP, a nonprofit organization founded by the U.S. Congress.



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Joe Impastato,

a former St. Tammany Parish councilman, was sentenced to 18 months in prison for soliciting and receiving $40,000 in kickbacks after securing a Hurricane Katrina-related contract for a local business. The owners of the Pontchartrain Chipping Yard in Lacombe paid Impastato so their yard would be used as a disposal site for hurricane debris. Joseph Mistich, a former Mandeville public works director, also was sentenced to five years probation in connection with the case for failing to report Impastato's crime.

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