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The Best and the Worst of the Week 

Pontchartrain Vineyards
of St. Tammany Parish has won a Bronze Medal in the 2002 Dallas Morning News Wine Competition. Pontchartrain's award-winning 2000 Rouge Militaire was among 2,500 wines entered in the prestigious contest. The Covington vineyard, owned by John and Susan Seago, has been hailed by critics for producing some of the South's finest wines.

Marianna Barry, Lauren Brown and Rayna Carter ,
10th graders at Ursuline Academy, have advanced to the national level of the Toshiba/National Science Teacher Association ExploraVision Awards competition. Their project studies NOGO, a protein that prevents spinal cord regeneration. The national contest will be held in Washington, D.C., in June.

Randy Newman ,
the New Orleans-born and Los Angeles-bred singer/songwriter and composer, ended one of the longest droughts in Academy Award history by finally winning for Best Song. Newman, whose two nominations this year pushed him to 16 overall, won for "If I Didn't Have You" (with New Orleans' adopted son John Goodman) from Monsters, Inc. Had he lost, Newman would have set a record for most nominations without winning.

Carry Emerson ,
a former claims examiner with the Louisiana Office of Risk Management, admitted she recruited her relatives to help her file 349 fake claims against the state. Emerson received 12 years in prison for the scam, which cost the state more than $1 million. Her scheme involved filing claims for cohorts who purported to have been in auto accidents at locations on roads where the state considered itself liable.

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